Climate Change Is Faster and More Extreme’ Than Feared

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“Natural carbon sinks, such as forests and
oceans, are losing their ability to absorb CO2
from the atmosphere faster than expected.”

The report has been endorsed by Professor
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the newly elected Vice
Chair of the IPCC, who said: “It is clear that
climate change is already having a greater impact
than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s
vital that international mitigation and
adaptation responses become swifter and more
ambitious.”
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The Telegraph/UK
October 20, 2008

Climate Change Is Faster and More Extreme’ Than Feared
Climate change is happening much faster than the
world’s best scientists predicted and will wreak
havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a
new report warns.

by Paul Eccleston

‘Extreme weather events’ such as the hot summer
of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths
across southern Europe from heat stress and poor
air quality, will happen more frequently.

Britain and the North Sea area will be hit more
often by violent cyclones and the predicted rise
in sea level will double to more than a metre,
putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.

The bleak report from WWF – formerly the World
Wildlife Fund – also predicts crops failures and
the collapse of eco systems on both land and sea.

And it calls on the EU to set an example to the
rest of the world by agreeing a package of
challenging targets for cutting greenhouse gas
emissions to tackle the consequences of climate
change and to keep any increase in global
temperatures below 2C.

The agency says that the 2007 report from the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
– a study of global warming by 4,000 scientists
from more than 150 countries which alerted the
world to the possible consequences of global
warming – is now out of date.

WWF’s report, Climate Change: Faster, stronger,
sooner, has updated all the scientific data and
concluded that global warming is accelerating far
beyond the IPCC’s forecasts.

As an example it says the first ‘tipping point’
may have already been reached in the Arctic,
where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years
ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone
completely within five years – something that
hasn’t occurred for a million years.

It could result in rapid and abrupt climate
change rather than the gradual changes forecast
by the IPCC.

The findings include:

* Global sea level rise could more than double
from the IPCC’s estimate of 0.59m by the end of
the century.

* Natural carbon sinks, such as forests and
oceans, are losing their ability to absorb CO2
from the atmosphere faster than expected.

* Rising temperatures have already led to a major
reduction in food crops resulting in losses of
40m tonnes of grain per year.

* Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea
are being exposed to the warmest temperatures
measured since records began.

* The number and intensity of extreme cyclones
over the UK and North Sea are projected to
increase, leading to increased wind speeds and
storm-related losses over Western and Central
Europe.

The report was issued to coincide with a meeting
of EU Environment Ministers today to discuss new
laws aimed at tackling climate change. Some
countries, including Italy and Poland, have
already rejected proposals for higher cuts in
emissions claiming they are unaffordable and
unrealistic when many countries are facing
recession.

The UK is the only country so far to commit to a
legally binding 80 per cent cut in emissions by
2050 which the Government claims can be achieved
by a switch to renewable energy sources – such as
wind and wave – combined with a new generation of
nuclear power stations.

In the report WWF urges the EU to commit to a
reduction target of at least 30 per cent below
1990 levels by 2020 without relying on offsetting
overseas and to provide financial support so
developing countries can cut their own emissions
and prepare for unavoidable impacts of climate
change.

WWF-UK’s Head of Climate Change, Dr. Keith
Allott, said: “Climate change is a major
challenge to the future of mankind and the
environment, and this sobering overview
highlights just how critical it is that EU
environment ministers, who are meeting today to
discuss EU legislation to tackle climate change,
commit to a strong climate and energy package, in
order to ensure a low carbon future.

“If the European Union wants to be seen as leader
at UN talks in Copenhagen next year, and to help
secure a strong global deal to tackle climate
change after 2012, then it must stop shirking its
responsibilities and commit to real emissions
cuts within Europe.”

The report has been endorsed by Professor
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the newly elected Vice
Chair of the IPCC, who said: “It is clear that
climate change is already having a greater impact
than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s
vital that international mitigation and
adaptation responses become swifter and more
ambitious.”

© 2008 The Telegraph

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