- An unprecedented joint statement issued by the leading
scientific academies of the world has called on the G8 governments to take
urgent action to avert a global catastrophe caused by climate change.
- The national academies of science for all the G8 countries,
along with those of Brazil, India and China, have warned that governments
must no longer procrastinate on what is widely seen as the greatest danger
facing humanity. The statement, which has taken months to finalise, is
all the more important as it is signed by Bruce Alberts, president of the
US National Academy of Sciences, which has warned George Bush about the
dangers of ignoring the threat posed by global warming.
- It was released on the day that Tony Blair met Mr Bush
in Washington, where the American President was expected to reaffirm his
opposition to joining the Kyoto treat to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Over dinner at the White House last night, Mr Blair appeared to make little
progress on one of his main priorities for Britain's year chairing the
G8 - a new international effort to combat climate change. The Prime Minister
is trying to draw the US, China and India into the discussion, but there
is little sign that the Bush administration will accept the growing scientific
evidence about the problem.
- Lord May of Oxford, the president of the Royal Society,
Britain's national academy of sciences, lambasted President Bush yesterday
for ignoring his own scientists by withdrawing from the Kyoto treaty. "The
current US policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush administration
has consistently refused to accept advice of the US National Academy of
Sciences ... Getting the US on board is critical because of the sheer amount
of greenhouse gas emissions they are responsible for," Lord May said.
- Between 1990 and 2002, the carbon dioxide emissions of
the US increased by 13 per cent, which on their own were greater than the
combined cut in emissions that will be achieved if all Kyoto countries
hit their targets, he said.
- "President Bush has an opportunity at Gleneagles
to signal that his administration will no longer ignore the scientific
evidence and act to cut emissions," Lord May said. "The G8 summit
is an unprecedented moment in human history. Our leaders face a stark choice
- act now to tackle climate change or let future generations face the price
of their inaction.
- "Never before have we faced such a global threat.
And if we do not begin effective action now it will be much harder to stop
the runaway train as it continues to gather momentum," he added.
- The joint statement by the national science academies
of the 11 countries does not mention Kyoto but it does refer repeatedly
to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change that spawned the 1995
protocol to limit future greenhouse gas emissions, which the US has signed
- Climate change is real, global warming is occurring and
there is strong evidence that man-made greenhouse gases are implicated
in a potentially catastrophic increase in global temperatures, the statement
says. "It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can
be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes
in the Earth's climate."
- Human activities are causing levels of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere to rise to a point not reached for at least 420,000 years.
Meanwhile average global temperatures rose by 0.6C in the 20th century
and are projected to increase by between 1.4C and 5.8C by 2100.
- "The scientific understanding of climate change
is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is
vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take
now to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global
greenhouse gas emissions," the statement says.
- In a veiled reference to President Bush's reluctance
to accept climate change by claiming that the science is unclear, the academies
emphasise that action is needed now to reduce the build-up of greenhouse
- "A lack of full scientific certainty about some
aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response
that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic [man-made]
interference with the climate system," the statement says.
- "We urge all nations... to take prompt action to
reduce the causes of climate change, adapt to its impacts and ensure that
the issue is included in all relevant national and international strategies."
- The national academies warn that even if greenhouse gas
emissions can be stabilised at existing levels, the climate would continue
to change as it slowly responds to the extra carbon dioxide added to the
atmosphere. "Further changes in climate are therefore unavoidable.
Nations must prepare for them," the statement says.
- CO2 on the increase
- 1958: A US scientist, Charles Keeling, begins measuring
the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) on an extinct volcano
in Hawaii. It stands at 315 parts per million (ppm).
- 1968: The US spacecraft 'Apollo 8' takes the first pictures
of Earth from a distance, beautiful but fragile - which help start modern
environmentalism. The C02 level has reached 323ppm.
- 1972: The UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm
- the moment when the world first recognises environmental threats to the
Earth as a whole. CO2 now at 327ppm.
- 1988: The world wakes up to the danger of climate change,
with an outspoken warning from scientists, and a speech by Margaret Thatcher.
CO2 level stands at 351ppm.
- 1992: The Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro sees more than
100 countries sign the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first
global warming treaty. CO2 now at 356ppm.
- 1995: The Kyoto protocol to the UN's climate treaty is
signed in Japan, binding countries, including the US, to make cuts in their
CO2 emissions. The CO2 level has now reached 360ppm.
- 2000: Obvious that the 1990s were the hottest decade
in the global temperature record, with 1998 the hottest year in the northern
hemisphere for 1,000 years. CO2 is 369ppm.
- 2001: George Bush withdraws the US, the world's biggest
CO2 emitter, from Kyoto, alleging it will damage America's economy - jeopardising
the whole process. CO2 level now at 371ppm.
- 2003: First two weeks of August are the hottest period
ever recorded in western Europe: 35,000 people die. New record high temperature
for Britain. CO2 now at 375ppm.
- 2004: After much dithering, Russia ratifies Kyoto, enabling
the protocol to enter into force despite the desertion of the United States.
But that doesn't stop the CO2 level rising to 377ppm.
- ©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.