Campaigners call for tougher action on climate

Posted: 2 February 2007

Environment pressure groups have greeted the latest IPCC report on climate change with a universal call for much more urgent action to combat global warming which threatens human civilisation with increasing drought, flooding, storms and runaway sea rise.

Governments must negotiate deeper emission cuts for CO2 and other greenhouse gases, says WWF, to keep increases in global temperatures as low as possible.

"The IPCC report embodies an extraordinary scientific consensus that climate change is already upon us, and that human activities are the cause," says James P. Leape, Director General of WWF International. "It is a clarion call to governments to act urgently to slash emissions."

The report from the IPPC's first Working Group, released in Paris today, shows that the world has already warmed by over 0.7°C and is locked into at least another 0.5°C warming. WWF stresses the need for countries to keep global average temperatures below the dangerous 2°C rise compared to pre-industrial times.

"Governments must ensure that the next UN Climate Conference in Bali is successful in setting a tight time frame for negotiating new cuts in emissions within a next Kyoto Agreement, that will also promote clean investments," says Hans Verolme, Director of WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.

WWF wants the EU, as a self-proclaimed leader on climate issues, to use its upcoming Council in March to unilaterally commit to a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2020. By the same time, it should also set a binding 20 per cent target for renewable energy sources, and a strict energy efficiency plan to reduce absolute energy consumption in the EU by one per cent annually.

Yearly target needed

In the US, Congress should set deep mandatory cuts for CO2 emissions and engage again with the international community in constructive talks about a longer-term emission reduction scheme.

"The fourth assessment report documents that climate change is happening now and the IPCC is unequivocal about the fact that it is caused by people," says Verolme. "This sense of urgency must be transmitted to governments for us to stop the effects of dangerous climate change."

These views are echoed by Friends of the Earthwhich says the IPCC report should provoke the UK government to move its plans for action on climate change up a gear, ensuring that the climate change law - which is going through Parliament - delivers the cuts in carbon emissions which are needed.

The Big Ask, Friends of the Earths climate campaign, is calling for a law which commits the Government to reducing the UKs carbon dioxide emissions by at least 3 per cent every year. "The law would provide the clarity and confidence Government departments and business need to invest in the solutions to climate change. By taking a lead, the Government will give UK business a competitive advantage in the emerging low carbon friendly market," FOE says.

The water lobby has added its voice to these concerns. Bob Sargent, President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) asks: "Is the political will there to rise to the challenge? It is not impossible to manage this disaster and steer it to a condition where we can continue civilized life but we have been far too timid in our responses to climate change so far.

Time for leadership

"Having given the climate a good kick in one direction, we've got to be equally robust in stabilising it before the positive feedback gets going."

CIWEM believes that the UK and the EU have a tremendous opportunity to show leadership but that current political rationale needs to be scrutinised to ensure that the effects of climate change are mitigated.

Nick Reeves, Executive Director of CIWEM, says:"For me, climate change represents something that requires a globally co-ordinated response and a change in political structures: an opportunity to regain a proper balance between people and nature."

Forum for the Future, which works with business to encourage a sustainable future, also called on the Government and the business community to respond to the the IPCC's fourth report on climate change with an accelerated programme of action.

No more debate

Chief Executive Peter Madden said: "We can never know the future for certain, but this latest IPCC report effectively ends the debate about whether climate change is happening, and whether human activity is the cause. The answer is 'yes' on both counts, and the focus now has to be on both stopping climate change getting worse and adapting to the effects already in the pipeline".

He went on, "The good news is that awareness of the issue is rising exponentially. With 91 per cent of the UK's university applicants believing climate change will affect them personally in the next 25 years - mostly for the worse - it's clear that the message has got through. This provides a clear mandate for business and the public sector to move forward and quickly."

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For the full details of the IPCC report on this websie see: Evidence of human-caused global warming unequivocal