From: Reuters
Published June 10, 2008 09:04 AM

Science academies urge 50 pct CO2 cuts by 2050

OSLO (Reuters) - Major economies should aim to halve world emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and work out ways to bury gases in a wider assault on climate change, the science academies of 13 nations said on Tuesday.

"Progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emission has been slow," the academies of the Group of Eight (G8) nations and China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa said in a statement targeting leaders at July 7-9 summits in Japan.


The statement noted that G8 leaders agreed in 2007 to "consider seriously" a goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to help limit changes such as droughts or flooding, heatwaves, more powerful cyclones or rising seas.

"We urge G8+5 leaders to make maximum efforts to carry this forward and commit to these emission reductions," according to the statement. The G8+5 is the G8 and the five big developing nations.

Last year at the G8 summit in Germany, leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Canada favored a goal of halving world emissions by 2050. The United States and Russia were opposed.

Developing nations argue that rich countries have to take the lead before they sign up to any curbs on their rising emissions.

The academies, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also urged work on technologies for capturing greenhouse gases, for instance from coal-fired power plants, and burying them in porous rocks.


They urged "by 2009, a timetable, funding and a coordinated plan for the construction of a significant number of carbon capture and storage demonstration plants". Burning of fossil fuels releases heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

A 2005 report by the U.N. Climate Panel said that carbon capture could be one of the main ways to fight global warming this century but could push up electricity generation prices.

"Coal will continue to be one of the world's primary energy sources for the next 50 years," said Martin Rees, president of the British Royal Society, adding that unchecked emissions could trigger "dangerous and irreversible change in the climate."

"Techniques for carbon capture and storage must therefore be developed urgently. So much is at stake that current efforts are quite inadequate," he said in a statement.

The academies also urged the world to prepare for the impacts of climate change and to accelerate a shift towards a "low carbon society", including new clean energy sources and energy conservation.

"Humans have been adapting to their environment throughout history," the statement said. "But the rate and scale of climate change means there is no time for complacency. A step change in our response is necessary."

They also urged more focus on health, telling leaders at the Japan summits to do more to cooperate to improve health, for instance by raising access to safe water and by ensuring "equitable access to medical information and treatment".

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