Climate Paper Warns of Disaster

Devastating changes to sea levels, rainfall, water supplies, weather systems and crop yields are increasingly likely before the end of the century, scientists will warn today.

A special report, to be released at the start of climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, will reveal that up to a billion people face losing their homes in the next 90 years because of failures to agree curbs on carbon emissions.

Up to three billion people could lose access to clean water supplies because global temperatures cannot now be stopped from rising by 4C.

“The main message is that the closer we get to a four-degree rise, the harder it will be to deal with the consequences,” said Dr Mark New, a climate expert at Oxford University, who organised a recent conference entitled “Four Degrees and Beyond” on behalf of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

The papers from the meeting will be published today to coincide with the start of the Cancun talks.

A key feature of these papers is they assume that, even if global carbon emission curbs were to be agreed at some time in the future, these would be insufficient to limit global temperature rises to 2C this century – the maximum temperature rise agreed by politicians as acceptable.

Dr Chris Huntingford of Oxfordshire said: “To have a realistic chance of doing that, the world would have to get carbon emissions to peak within 15 years and then follow this up with a massive decarbonisation of society.”

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