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Grim News on Climate Change
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Top climate experts warned in Brussels on Friday that the damage caused by global warming will be greater and occur sooner than previously forecast, ranging from hunger in Africa and Asia to mass extinctions and rising ocean levels.


China and more than 100 other nations taking part in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations taskforce researching climate change, agreed a final report on Friday.


The report said no continent would likely escape the adverse effects of climate change if global temperatures rose more than 2-3 C compared to their 1990 levels.


According to a news release posted on the IPCC's website, climate change, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), is already under way.


Desertification, drought and rising seas would be most serious in the tropics, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Pacific islands, the release said.


Lin Erda, one of the country's top climate experts, said the report includes a wide-ranging discussion of the effects of climate change.


"The report shows the latest understanding of how climate change affects ecosystems, water, food, coasts and health," said Lin, who contributed to the Chinese part of the report and participated in the early part of Brussels meeting days ago.


The report also brings closure to some long-running arguments. For example, the report confirmed that the chances the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation, the process by which seawater moves between the oceans, would stop during the 21st century were "very unlikely". European researchers had previously worried that any disruption to the process would cause temperatures to drop, Lin said.


He said that the Chinese team has an active and cooperative attitude in compiling and approving the report of Group II to the Fourth Assessment of the IPCC.


"All China's suggestions about how the report could be improved were based on scientific and technological research both at home and abroad," he said. "The report is the result of broad-based agreement by all members."


"China is a responsible part of the international community," said Lin. "This country has and will take measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change."


China has set a target of cutting energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent from the 2005 level by 2010. China, as a developing country without an obligation to cut GHG emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, is pursuing projects under the protocol's clean development mechanism.


The world should also be aware that the country's CO2 emissions per capita still stand below the world average, he said. "The government needs to make climate change an integral part of its development planning in order to address the problem of global warming," Lin said.


The report by the IPCC, which brought together 2,500 scientists, will guide policy in coming years on issues such as extending the UN Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.


(China Daily April 7, 2007)

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