CLIMATE CHANGE: WWF calls for new plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called on governments to announce aggressive plans for cutting domestic carbon dioxide emissions and to close loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol following the publication of studies showing the devastating effects that global warming could have over the coming decades.

The studies show that climate change could lead to the flooding of cities such as New York, Boston and Miami and the loss of much of North America’s most important area for breeding waterfowl species. The Japanese cities Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya also face the risk of flooding. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which suffered coral bleaching when sea temperatures increased 0.5 degree C above normal, faces temperature increases of between 1.5 and 3.5 degree C by 2100, threatening its survival.

In Latin America, large areas of the Amazon would become more susceptible to forest fires. Drought would also affect the midwest of Argentina, southern Mexico and Central America. In Russia and Canada, rapid warming will threaten large expanses of the countries’ vast boreal forests and increase the risk of forest fires and pest attack.

Ten per cent of mammals in China are already threatened with extinction and climate change could make protected areas unsuitable for many species, including the Giant Panda. Among wetlands at risk from global warming are Spain’s Coto Doñana – habitat for the endangered Iberian Lynx – the Pantanal in Brazil, and Florida’s Everglades.

The reports, National and Regional Climate Change Scenarios were commissioned by WWF and produced by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. They span 90 per cent of likely future climates, and show how increasing emissions of carbon dioxide would change temperature, precipitation and sea levels around the world over the next 90 years.

“Evidence for the warming of our planet over the last 200 years is now overwhelming,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Mike Hulme. “We’re increasingly seeing the unmistakable fingerprint of human influence on global climate. With no action to curb emissions, the climate on Earth over the next century could become warmer than any the human species has lived through.”

“These scenarios show us future climates that we must avoid,” added Adam Markham, Director of WWF’s Climate Change Campaign. “The future of our planet hangs in the balance but every ton of carbon pollution we can prevent from entering the atmosphere will help to lighten the load.”

Starting on 25 October, governments will discuss the operating rules for the Kyoto Protocol at the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention meets in Bonn. The December 1997 agreement intended to pare 5 per cent off industrialised countries’ global warming emissions starting from 2008. Nearly two years after its adoption, the Protocol has not been ratified by any industrialised nations, nor have any industrialised leaders produced Kyoto implementation plans.

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