Published October 20, 2008 10:29 AM

Climate change outracing EU targets, WWF warns

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Climate change is happening faster and its extent is wider than the world's leading scientists had predicted, according to a new report by pro-green group the WWF released on Monday (20 October), urging the EU to take ambitious action.

"It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it's vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious," Jean-Pascal van Ypersele - a professor of climatology at the Louvain university in Belgium and newly elected vice chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - said, unveiling the study.

The WWF report says that global warming is accelerating beyond last year's IPCC forecasts, with the Arctic Ocean losing sea ice "up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions," and the sea level rise expected to "reach more than double the IPCC's maximum estimate of 0.59 metres by the end of the century, putting vast coastal areas at risk."

This could endanger summer sea ice, which could completely disappear between 2013 and 2040 - something which the WWF insists has not happened "in more than a million years" - and has already led to a significant reduction in food crops.

Additionally, strong winds, storms, rainfalls, as well as heat waves, are likely to increase in the next decades all over Europe.

"Under global warming, summer ozone levels are projected to be similar to those found during the summer of 2003 [when some 35,000 extra deaths occurred across Europe as a result of heat stress], with the largest increase projected to occur over England, Belgium, Germany and France," reads the research paper.

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