Doing nothing will cost more than taking action: report
World has 30 years to stop climate change, UN says
CAMBRIDGE BAY – World leaders who refuse to pay heed to climate change should learn a lesson from students at Kiilinik Ilihakvik.
There's no recycling program in Cambridge Bay, but the students have pushed ahead with their own effort to put paper, cans and plastic pop bottles into special containers for recycling.
It's a small but important step in a world that, according to a new United Nations report, has only 30 years to stop climate change.
From now until 2030, better practices, new technology, and government action may manage to keep the planet's temperatures from rising as much as 11 C by 2100, says the report.
Nunatsiaq News obtained a confidential draft summary of the report, called "Mitigation of climate change," prepared for officials from 120 nations around the world who met in Bangkok, Thailand this week.
The report, released May 4, is the third of a four-part 2007 climate assessment by the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The third report spells out how the world can act now to keep the global temperature rise limited to 3.6 C by 2100. It says earlier efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to warming temperatures, have resulted in "little change" to date.
In the two previous IPCC reports, the panel said unchecked emissions may cause uncontrolled warming and lead to disaster when melting ice sheets increase sea levels and alter ocean currents. Earlier this week, scientists said that retreat of summer Arctic sea ice is already about three times greater than projected.
In its third report, the panel argues that, in the end, not fighting climate change will cost governments more money than taking action.
But action means the world's energy supplies, transportation systems, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management face huge changes.
More fuel-efficient cars, energy-saving appliances and fluorescent light bulbs are part of this change. So is the development of renewable energy from the sun, wind, water or waste.
"Renewable energy can have a positive effect on energy security, employment and on air quality," the panel says as part of its argument for why fighting climate change is economically sound.
The benefits from reducing pollution could even cut health care costs, the panel suggests.
But to make sure things do change, the panel says governments also need to act.
Governments should keep oil prices high and tax energy-users. They also need to set cleaner standards for industry, create more public transport, toughen up building codes and offer bonuses for better waste and wastewater management.
However, the United States and China are reportedly against this strategy because they maintain these changes will be too expensive and take too much time to put into effect.
The panel's final report must be unanimously approved.
Its conclusions will influence future climate change talks and discussions among world leaders at the G8 summit of the group of eight most industrialized nations in June.