From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/29-4
by Karin Kamp and John Light
Published on Sunday, September 29, 2013 by Moyers & Company
For the first time, the world’s top climate change scientists have endorsed an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions, establishing a target level for curbing emissions that if not achieved could lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climatic changes.
In a report released Fridayby the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s climate panel, scientists also said that the target is likely to be exceeded in a matter of decades unless steps are taken soon to reduce emissions. To contain these changes will require “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” the scientists said.
The panel hopes that its latest report will help move international policymakers toward agreement on a new climate treaty, as negotiations have stalled in recent years. The report also concluded that many of the observed changes in climate since 1950 were “unprecedented over decades to millennia” and that over half of the temperature increases were man-made.
“Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” said Qin Dahe, co-chair of the IPCC working group that produced the report.
In reaction to the news, Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “The IPCC warns of an alarming escalation of impacts but also shows that preventing climate chaos is still possible.”
Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, Naidoo added that the panel’s warnings call for immediate action. He also pointed to the on-going situation regarding Greenpeace activists who are being held in Russia after they protested oil drilling in the Arctic.
“Unfortunately those who are taking this action are now in prison in Russia, while those that are most responsible are protected by governments around the world,” Naidoo said. One of the main obstacles to addressing climate change is a lack of political will, in particular on agreements that would create legally binding and internationally enforceable targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Window of opportunity
Naidoo talked about the urgency of these issues in this weekend’s interview with Bill Moyers. As the Arctic melts and sea levels rise, Naidoo said bold steps are needed on the part of policymakers in the international community to create an “energy revolution” to ensure carbon emissions drop dramatically.
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