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Only immediate action can prevent climate chaos

2 Feb 2007

Where does Bertie Ahern stand on climate change?

Friends of the Earth belives the significance of UN report on climate change science published this morning is clear. Humanity stands at the edge of climate disaster. Only immediate and sustained action to cut climate pollution can pull us back from the brink. The authoriative report, the work of 2,500 scientists over 6 years, predicts that average gloabl temperatures this century will reach between 2 degrees and 4.5 degrees centrigrade above pre-industrial levels. How much warming ultimately occurs depends on quickly and how deeply we reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. If we fail to act, the scientists' "best estimate" is for 3C of global warming. That would be five times the warming which occured in the last century the affects of which we are only beginning to see. The European Union has long held that 2C is the threshold for "dangerous climate change" and has made keeping global warming below this the key goal of its climate policy.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director Oisin Coghlan said
"This report is the starkest warning yet that we have no time to waste. What the science means is the minimium amount of warming possible is the maximum we can allow if we are to avoid climate chaos. Now the only question is one that future generations will ask us - 'What did you do when you heard it was humanity's last chance to avoid climate disater'. That question rings loudest for our politicians. In Ireland our government has been tinerking while the world warms. Now it's time for leadership."

"This Government signed the Kyoto Protocol 10 years ago. This Government agreed to a 13% limit for our pollution growth. This Government says repeatedly that Kyoto is only a first step and more intense action will be needed. And yet 10 years on our emissions are still rising and this year the rise will reach twice our Kyoto commitment. Three Ministers for the Environemnt - Demspey, Cullen and Roche - have all failed to convince the Government to take the issue seriously. Instead we have business as usual. The question is now one for the Taoiseach. Where do you stand on climate change, Bertie Ahern? Will you act to ensure Ireland does its fair share," Mr Coghlan asked.

The European Union has agreed that for rich countries to do their fair share we will have to cut our pollution by 60-80% by 2050 and has proposed a cut of 20-30% by 2020, compared to a 1990 baseline. Meanwhile Ireland is failing to meet its Kyoto target of an increase of 13%, this year the rise in our emissions is forecast to reach twice that level. Among rich countries Ireland is the fifth most climate polluting country per person. And yet it is the world's poorest countries, who have done least to contribute to the problem are being hit first and will be hit hardest.

The report of the UN Interngovermental Panel on Climate Change was published at 8.30am GMT on Friday 2 February in Paris. See http://www.ipcc.ch/.

Background to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

Recognising the problem of potential global climate change, the World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP) established the IPCC in 1988. It is open to all members
of the UN and WMO.

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and
transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information
relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced
climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and
mitigation. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published
scientific/technical literature.

The First IPCC Assessment Report was completed in 1990. The Report played
an important role in establishing the Intergovernmental Negotiating
Committee for a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by the UN
General Assembly. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
was adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994. It provides the
overall policy framework for addressing the climate change issue.

The IPCC has continued to provide scientific, technical and socio-economic
advice to the world community, and in particular to the Parties to the
UNFCCC through its periodic assessment reports and special reports. Its
Second Assessment Report, Climate Change 1995, provided key input to the
negotiations, which led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to the
UNFCCC in 1997.

The Third Assessment Report (TAR), Climate Change 2001, was completed in
2001. It was submitted to the 7th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC
and Parties agreed that it should be used routinely as a useful reference
for providing information for deliberations on agenda items of the
Conference of the Parties.

 

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