Man vs nature
Urgent need for progressive climate-change agreement
Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
AHEAD of the global climate talks in Lima, Peru, next month, world leaders have been urged to craft an agreement grounded in the science of climate change, which currently paints a bleak picture for the future of especially vulnerable countries.
"As far as we can see, a progressive agreement is one that is based on the science of climate change, that minimises the worse impacts of climate change, and that we take adequate and timely action in the mitigation of the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by which we can deal with temperature increase," said Dr Rajendra Pachari, head of the world's premier climate research body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"I hope that in this particular (talks in Lima), the global community is able to map out exactly what kind of agreement it requires, and I think the driver of that must be the science of climate change," added Pachari.
He was speaking on day one of a training workshop for Latin America and Caribbean journalists, held in Lima last month.
Deliberations in Lima are intended to advance work on a new international agreement on climate change that is to be signed in Paris, France, next year.
"They (leaders) must realise that the impact of climate change is going to become very, very difficult over a period of time and, therefore, we have to ensure that we adapt to some of those impacts.
"Most importantly, we have to ensure that we mitigate emissions of GHGs so that we are able to adapt to the impacts of climate change," declared Pachari.
At the same time, Pachari said the science had showed that the impacts are expected to lead to, among other things, ill-health throughout many regions, "particularly the developing countries with low income".
Pachari is joined by Jamaican interests in his call for decisions at the climate talks to be informed by the science.
"It seems to me that the science is working to help us because the scientists are more and more clearly saying that things are not sustainable if we continue the way we are going, and that means that countries all over the globe will be impacted, whether you are rich or poor," said Albert Daley, head of Jamaica's Climate Change Division.
"The only thing is that some of the rich ones can adjust better. If sea level rises, they go to higher ground, whereas small island states, if sea level rises, we have no other place to go," he added.
Possible impacts of climate change by the end of this century include:
The likely increase in the length, frequency and/or intensity of heat waves over most land areas;
The likelihood of a 1-in-20-year hottest day becoming a 1-in-2-year event in most regions; and
That the frequency or proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase over many areas of the globe.
Possible health implications of climate change include:
Injury, disease, and death due to more intense heat waves and fires;
Under-nutrition from diminished food production in poor regions; and
Risks from food, water and vector-borne diseases.