The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
November 14, 2007
Vital facts ‘deleted’ from UN report on climate change
By Charles Clover, London
A MAJOR United Nations report on climate change has been watered down
as a result of influence from government officials from countries
opposed to taking radical action, conservation group WWF claims.
It says “vital facts” have been cut from the report’s summary,
including a warning of more destructive hurricanes, the warming of
the upper Pacific Ocean and the loss of glaciers in the European Alps.
The group fears that the report will play down the need for deep cuts
The report, which will be released on Saturday, will say that almost
a third of the world’s species will face extinction if greenhouse gas
emissions continue to rise.
A draft copy of the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) also warns that if temperatures rise by more
than two degrees – now expected before 2050 – 20 per cent of the
world’s population will face a great risk of drought.
With that level of temperature rise, other parts of the world will
face increased flood risk from rainfall and there will be a decrease
in cereal harvests in some regions.
There will also be a rise in flooding, particularly around deltas in
China and Bangladesh and low Pacific islands.
The report is the focus of talks between the UN panel and government
delegations at a meeting in Valencia, Spain, before next month’s
UN-sponsored meeting in Bali that will start negotiations on a new
climate change treaty.
It was compiled by the UN panel of 2500 climate change scientists,
which this year won the Nobel peace prize with the former US
vice-president Al Gore.
It says that most of the increase in global average temperatures
since the mid-20th century is “very likely” to be the result of
greenhouse gas emissions.
Otherwise, global temperatures might have been expected to decrease.
The scientists will say it is possible to halt global warming if the
world’s greenhouse gas emissions start to decline before 2015.
This is highly unlikely. Emissions are projected to increase by up to
90 per cent by 2030 on present estimates, according to the report.
The study will warn that if emissions continue to rise without action
being taken until 2050, then global average temperatures would rise
by up to five degrees.
Such an average rise would cause “significant extinctions” around the
world, a decrease in cereal harvests everywhere and the flooding of
about 30 per cent of coastal wetlands.
The chairman of the Nobel prize-winning IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri,
called the Valencia meeting a watershed for the group.
Mr Pachauri said the UN panel scientists were determined to “adhere
to standards of quality” in the fourth and final report to be issued
The comment was an indirect barb at the political delegations, which
environmentalists have accused of watering down and excluding vital
information from the summaries of earlier reports to fit their own
The WWF claims that the report will also not contain worrying
evidence published in the past year that the Southern Ocean has
started to take up less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,
accelerating the pace of global warming.