The world's governments must spend up to $45 bln more each year to halt climate change, according to a group of scientists who support a United Nations summit on the issue.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon might call for a climate change summit as early as June, his spokeswoman, Michele Montas, told reporters. She said Ban considers climate change a threat to international peace and security, the standard for Security Council involvement. A group of 20 scientists today gave Ban recommendations they billed as a follow-up to the February 2 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said global warming is „very likely” caused by humans. The recommendations were contained in a 144-page report released today in New York.
„It is still possible to avoid an unmanageable degree of climate change, but the time for action is now,” said John Holdren, a Harvard University professor and head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Holdren said carbon emissions have increased the Earth's average surface temperature by 0.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels and another 2-2.5 degree rise is projected by 2100. Beyond that, there may be „intolerable impacts,” the report said. The scientists recommended at least tripling the current spending of $15 billion by governments and private sources to prevent droughts, floods and a rise in the sea level. The money would be invested in improved fuel efficiency, development of bio-fuels and ways of coping with unavoidable changes. The US should increase gasoline fuel efficiency for cars to an average of at least 34 miles per gallon and raise gasoline taxes and registration fees, Holdren said.
The UN probably won't host a climate change summit before 2009, former US Senator Tim Wirth said after briefing Ban on the report. Wirth, who heads the UN Foundation, a sponsor of the report, said it would take two years to organize an effective summit and should be held after President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009. „There's no use having a summit now because you'd just have a war with the US, China, India and the European Union on different sides,” Wirth, a Democrat from Colorado, said. „The US would veto anything. But the secretary-general is jumping on it, and we are helping him develop a road map to get there.” The US has cited economic reasons for not ratifying the main global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto Protocol. Under the protocol, 35 countries and the European Union agreed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by a combined 5% from 1990 levels by 2012. There has been no agreement on a successor to the treaty.
Wirth said he and other members of the group of scientists briefed leading Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama on the report, and that each has incorporated some of the findings into their platforms. „This issue is going to be right smack in the center of the presidential campaign,” Wirth said. „The Senate is going to pass legislation on carbon constraints, but it will be a relatively modest bill and there will be a lot of pressure on Bush not to veto.” Ban, who could bring the issue to the attention of the Security Council, hasn't done so yet, Montas said. (Bloomberg)