UN Given Roadmap to Meet Climate Challenge
NEW YORK, New York, February 27, 2007 (ENS) - In order to avoid
climate change becoming "a catastrophe," the world must ramp up
efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prepare to deal with more
weather-related disasters and to help climate change refugees, an
international panel of experts told the United Nations today.
The panel's 166-page report outlines a strategy for preventing
unmanageable climate changes and adapting to unavoidable ones, urging
the international community to commit to the goal of trying to hold
global temperature increases to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
"Doing so would require very rapid success in reducing emissions of
methane and black soot worldwide, and it would require that global
carbon dioxide emissions level off by 2015 or 2020 at not much above
their current amount, before beginning a decline to no more than a
third of that level by 2100," the report said. "But the challenge of
halting climate change is one to which civilization must rise."
Failure to meet that target, the report said, will likely
bring "intolerable impacts on human-welling being," by causing
adverse impacts to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, the availability
of fresh water, the geography of disease and the livability of human
The Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable
Development, consisting of 18 experts from 11 nations, was asked to
make its recommendations by the United Nations.
The report, prepared for the upcoming meeting of the UN's Commission
on Sustainable Development, took two years to compile and was
sponsored by the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society and the United
Nations Foundation, a private group founded by U.S. cable television
mogul Ted Turner.
It comes in the wake of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change's (IPCC) latest assessment of the science of climate change,
which concluded that human activity, namely the burning of fossil
fuels, is almost certainly changing the climate. If unabated,
greenhouse gas emissions could push average global temperatures more
than 6 degrees Celsius higher by century's end, the IPCC said, rising
sea levels, increasing heat waves, droughts and severe weather
"It is still possible to avoid an unmanageable degree of climate
change, but the time for action is now," said report coauthor John
Holdren, director of the Woods Hole Research Center and chairman of
the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The study urges the international community to implement a new global
policy framework to cut emissions, with a mechanism that establishes
a price for carbon - either a tax or a cap-and-trade program.
Policies to encourage energy efficiency and carbon-free energy are
needed, according to the report, which called on the world to
increase public and private energy technology research three- or four-
fold to more than $45 billion a year.
Research on carbon sequestration and clean coal technology is
critical, the panel said, and the world should cease deploying coal-
fired power plants absent those capable of "cost-effective and
environmentally sound retrofits for capture and sequestration of
their carbon emissions."
The study recommends the United Nations and governments worldwide
accelerate implementation of "win-win solutions" that can moderate
climate change while also moving the world toward a more sustainable
future energy path and making progress on the UN's Millennium
Development Goals to alleviate global poverty and increase
Such measures include improving transportation through increased
efficiency standards and incentives for alternative-fuel cars, as
well as greener commercial and residential buildings and an expansion
of the use of biofuels.
The UN and other international institutions must also help the
world's poorer nations and most vulnerable communities prepare for
climate change, the report said. In addition, the global community
should discourage development on coastal land that is less than one
meter above present high tide, as well as within high-risk areas such
as floodplains, and ensure that the effects of climate change are
considered in the design of protected areas and efforts to maintain
"The world is experiencing climate disruption now and future
increases in droughts, floods and sea-level rise will cause enormous
human suffering and economic losses," said coauthor Rosina Bierbaum,
former acting director of the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy. "We can manage water better, bolster disaster
preparedness, increase surveillance for emerging diseases . . . and
enhance local capacity to cope with a suite of expected changes."
The full report can be found here: