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Stark warning to governments over climate change


Stark warning to governments over climate change

Valencia, Spain, 17 November 2007--The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a stark warning that governments need to take strong action on climate when they meet in Bali to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol's second phase in two weeks time, says Greenpeace.

The IPCC has just approved its Fourth Assessment Synthesis report, which sums up the key points from its three earlier reports published this year on climate change science, its impacts and the mitigation options. The synthesis report will be the key reference document for policymakers in the coming years.

"It's clear from this report that we are gambling with the future of the planet - and the stakes are high," said Greenpeace New Zealand's Cindy Baxter from Valencia. "This document sets out a compelling case for early action on climate change. And it must take centre stage at the Kyoto talks in Bali in December."

She said governments should be constantly referring back to this report during the negotiations. "We expect to see their personal copies of the Synthesis Report return from Bali, battered and worn from frequent use, with paragraphs underlined and notes in the margin."

The IPCC reports of "unequivocal" climate change already occurring and warns that man-made global warming could lead to abrupt or irreversible impacts.

However, it also confirms that all greenhouse gas stabilisation levels can be achieved with currently available technologies or those expected to be commercialised in the coming decades.

"We have a choice - irreversible impacts - or an Energy Revolution. Greenpeace believes it is possible to keep the worst impacts of climate change - the extreme weather events, water crises and increased hunger - from putting millions of people at risk. This will take a revolution in the way we use and produce energy, and a strong commitment to stop deforestation worldwide."

Greenpeace New Zealand climate change campaigner Jim Footner said the New Zealand government had a crucial role to play in Bali, and its international reputation is on the line. "The New Zealand delegation must go to Bali and push for a global emissions reduction target that keeps warming below two degrees. The IPCC itself specifies a range of between 25 and 40 per cent reductions below 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries like New Zealand."

Amongst the severe risks the report labels as 'reasons for concern' are:

* New evidence that the poor and elderly are two groups most at risk in both rich and poor countries from the impacts of climate change: more hunger, more disease, greater risks from extreme weather events

* Major extinctions of plants and animals around the world

* Widespread mass die off of coral reefs, threatening the livelihoods of millions

* Harder droughts, more intense heatwaves and greatly increased flood risks are projected for areas of the world already hard hit, often in the poorest parts of the world.

* Increasing risk of more rapid sea level rise as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt from warming, with major risks to small islands and to the huge, heavily populated mega deltas of Asia

* Increasing risk of species extinction,

* more certainty in the projected increases in droughts, heatwaves and floods.

* There is more evidence of greater vulnerability of the poor and elderly in both the developed and developing world and of Arctic and small island communities.

See IPCC website for further report details


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