U.N. Climate Expert Hopeful on Environment Policies
GENEVA -- Growing public concern at global warming could help put pressure on governments to cut heat-trapping carbon emissions, the top U.N. climate change expert said on Monday.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said he was pleased with the response to the group's three reports this year, which concluded that human-induced global warming would cause hunger, droughts, heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.
"This time around the amount of interest has been enormous compared to previous reports," he told Reuters during a World Meteorological Organisation meeting on climate change.
"The fact that people are paying attention to this assessment clearly gives us some satisfaction ... With the knowledge that has been provided, there should be some impetus and momentum for action."
Pachauri said it was premature to say whether governments had adequately reacted to the IPCC findings that global carbon dioxide emissions must fall 50 to 85 percent by 2050 to stop the planet from heating up more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).
He said he was optimistic that governments would outline policy steps during a summit of environment ministers in Bali, Indonesia, in December.
"I hope there is at least some decisions on how to move ahead, at least a clear understanding on how the process is going to move forward," Pachauri said.
The IPCC reports, compiled by scientists and officials from more than 100 countries, review the latest science on climate change and assess the costs of curbing emissions growth. They are meant to serve as a blueprint for governments without telling them exactly what to do.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said a "comprehensive package on the way forward" needs to be launched at the Bali conference to ensure that emissions restrictions are maintained when the Kyoto Protocol's first phase runs out in 2012.
The Kyoto accord binds 35 industrial nations to cut greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12, but its signatories only account for a third of global emissions.
Diplomats say time is running short on a successor deal -- which is meant to include outsiders to Kyoto such as the United States, China and India -- because it would take two years to negotiate and another two years for governments to ratify.