Tackle climate change now, top scientists urge world leaders

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 07, 2009 09:30 hrs

As leaders of the world's 13 major countries prepare to meet at the G8+5 summit in Italy this week, 24 leading scientists from these countries have appealed to them to take immediate action to combat climate change.

'We come together to call on our government leaders to recognise both the unacceptable risks that climate change creates for our societies, and the unprecedented opportunities a clean energy, low-carbon transition creates for our economies,' the scientists said in a joint appeal.

The appeal appeared as an advertisement in the International Herald Tribune newspaper Tuesday. The scientists asked the leaders of the industrialised eight and developing five countries to take five specific steps at their summit this week:

* Recognise that present global warming of 0.8 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels is already having a significant impact, and that warming exceeding 2 degrees Celsius predicted for later this century would create great risks and have irreversible consequences.

* Commit to peak global greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2020 and reduce these by at least 50 percent relative to 1990 levels by 2050.

* For developed countries, commit to emissions reductions of at least 80 percent relative to 1990 by 2050 with appropriate intermediate targets set in time for Copenhagen (the next climate summit scheduled this December).

* For developing countries, commit by Copenhagen summit to significant gains in energy efficiency, reductions in carbon intensity, and cuts in non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades; this should be designed to support sustainable development and to lead to substantial reduction from business-as-usual emissions.

* Recognise that the impacts of existing changes in climate are primarily due to past emissions by developed nations, and that unless the burden of poverty in developing nations is alleviated by significant financial support for mitigation, adaptation, and the reduction of deforestation, that ability of developing countries to pursue sustainable development is likely to diminish, to the economic and environmental detriment of all.

The scientists who signed the appeal included: Kamal Bawa of the University of Massachusetts in the US; Kirit and Jyoti Parikh of the Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research in Mumbai; Martin Parry of the Imperial College in London and a former lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Robert Costanza of the University of Vermont (US); Hironori Hamanaka of Keio University (Japan); John Houghton of the British Meteorological Office; Gordon McBean of the Royal Society of Canada; Anthony J. McMichael of the Australian National University; Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany); and Henning Rodhe of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

They said: 'The world is looking to the MEF leaders to act on this challenge and to seize this immense opportunity. The time for bold leadership is now.'

More from Sify: