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Climate change delegates hash out measures to stem rise in global temperatures

Climate change delegates hash out measures to stem rise in global temperatures

Nations at a global climate change conference mapped out measures to combat global warming and neared agreement Wednesday on including nuclear energy as a way to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, delegates and observers said.
A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change _ the United Nations network of 2,000 scientists _ on how the world should cope with global warming is being debated in secret this week by delegates from more than 120 governments. A final version is expected by Friday.
The report will urge countries to deploy an array of measures _ including energy-efficient technologies, a shift away from coal, and agricultural reforms _ to keep world temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), thereby limiting the impact of global warming.
Delegates on Wednesday focused on different categories of energy use and ways to cut emissions as they went through a draft of the report summary, and were working into the night so negotiations could be wrapped up on Thursday.
"All the sectors are being discussed _ the building sector, industry, transport," said Surya Sethi, an Indian delegate.
One contentious issue has been whether and how to refer to nuclear power in the final summary. The United States, for instance, is pushing for a strong reference to atomic energy as a clean source of electricity, while environmentalists are arguing that other ways of cutting carbon emissions _ such as renewable energy sources _ should get priority.
A small committee working on the wording of the nuclear energy section was including atomic reactors as an option, but also pointing out the technology had limits, observers close to the negotiations said. The section was still to be approved by the larger group, however.
Stephan Singer of the World Wildlife Fund said he had not expected the IPCC to issue a statement against atomic energy, which many environmentalists consider too dangerous and costly to be a serious means of cutting greenhouse gases.
"It could have got worse," he said of the tentative wording. "We don't believe that nuclear is a solution."
The report to be issued on Friday is expected to warn of catastrophe unless the world acts quickly to stem climate change.
Two previous IPCC reports this year painted a dire picture of a future in which unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6 degrees C (11 degrees F) by 2100. Even a 2 degree C rise could subject up to 2 billion people, mostly in the developing world, to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world's species, the IPCC said.
One of the reports concluded that global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by between 140 million and 1 billion by contributing to widespread droughts and flooding. Diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and dengue fever could spread as temperatures rise and weather becomes increasingly erratic, affecting the poorest of the world's poor.
Delegates interviewed said they were optimistic that the "core messages" of the draft report would survive negotiations, noting that wording had already been reached that concludes global warming will rise dramatically without any action.
However, many delegates singled out China as an obstacle for raising scores of objections that have slowed down the talks.
China, the world's second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S., wants the report to reflect its belief that richer countries are chiefly responsible for global warming and should take the lead in cleaning up the problem, delegates said.
It has also suggested that a proposed cap on greenhouse gas levels of 445 parts per million is too low and that achieving the target would be too expensive, according to delegates.
A member of the Chinese delegation refused to discuss the specifics of their demands, other than to say they wanted the "truth of the science" to be reflected in the final document.
The report says mitigation can be achieved at a cost of less than 3 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) over two decades _ compared with current GDP growth of about 3 percent a year. China complained that the number of studies supporting that optimistic forecast is "relatively small."
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On the Net:
http://www.ipcc.ch


Updated : 2021-02-28 12:33 GMT+08:00