By Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson/AFP
Bangkok: The world’s leading climate change experts met on 30 April in Bangkok with a warning that now is the time to act to help save the planet from the worst effects of global warming.
At least 400 scientists and experts from about 120 countries are attending the third session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s leading authority on global warming.
Two reports issued earlier this year by the same UN panel warned that the Earth was already warming and predicted severe consequences including drought, flooding, violent storms and increased hunger and disease.
“We look forward to very fruitful days ahead of us, so at the end of the week, we can declare we are part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Ogunlade Davidson, co-chair of the meeting.
The third report the experts plan to release on 5 May will lay out ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent a climate catastrophe without seriously impacting on the global economy.
“The time to act is now... Global warming is increasingly becoming a hot agenda that requires harmonised cooperation from all nations,” Chartree Chueyprasit, one of Thailand’s top environment officials, told the opening of the meeting.
Exactly what action to take, and how much it will cost, is expected to be the subject of fierce debate during the closed-door meeting.
Environmental groups say the European Union -- which has pledged to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020 -- is likely to face off with the United States and China, the world’s biggest carbon polluters.
An early draft of the panel’s report, seen by AFP, says that world leaders have little time to waste, but that the tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions already exist.
Renewable energy, nuclear power, bio-fuels and reforestation are all in the mix, but a spokesman for the UN Environment Programme said much of the draft report would end up on the cutting room floor.
“It’s likely to be completely rewritten,” UNEP spokesman Michael Williams said.
“It’s quite natural that (when) you have 120 people looking at a text that other people have written, they are going to go through it and try and put it into their own language,” he added.
Sticking points at the Bangkok meeting could include taxes and caps on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and any references to the Kyoto Protocol, which US President George W. Bush abandoned after he took office.
Any mention of nuclear energy in the final report would incur the wrath of many environmental groups.
“Nuclear is a big issue and it is trying to make a comeback and posing as an alternative, a solution, to climate change,” said Abigail Gay Jabines, climate campaigner for environment group Greenpeace.
“In fact it is not an option. It never is an option.”
The 24-page draft summary says the cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions could be modest, with better fuel efficiency, subsidies for renewable energy and more energy-efficient buildings on the table.
One of the key issues set to be hotly debated is a so-called carbon price -- finding a way to make consumers and businesses pay for the pollution they create.
The findings of the report, which stops short of making recommendations, will be used by governments and international organisations to map out their own plans for preventing worst-case climate scenarios.
“The IPCC plays an incredibly important role in the political negotiations so people can point and say ‘look, this is what is going to happen in 50 years, these are the options available for us to take actions,” said Williams.
The findings will also play a key role in Kyoto negotiations, which will take place in December on the Indonesian island of Bali.