Climate Change Warning: It’s Here, It’s Now!

World environment leaders have issued a series of climate warnings from opposite ends of the globe, after hearing from those on the front line of global warming.

With less than 100 days until the UN’s crucial Copenhagen Conference, the UN Secretary General has visited scientists at a research station in the Norwegian Arctic Circle and UK Cabinet ministers have visited the flood-prone islands – or chars – of Bangladesh.

The Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander went to the Chaluhara Char village on the River Jamuna in the Bay of Bengal.

From their houses on stilts, the poverty-stricken residents told the ministers how they have been forced to move from char to char as the land has become more eroded through sea level rise and ever heavier rainfall.

In an exclusive video blog for Sky News Online, Ed Miliband said: “When we talk about climate change and think about it as some theoretical prospect of the future, it’s not.

“It’s here, it’s now, it’s facing these people in their daily lives.”

The Government says its Chars Livelihoods Programme has so far helped one million extremely poor people living on and around the chars.

Douglas Alexander, who has also made a video blog, told Sky News Online: “It’s almost unimaginable but there are 45 million people in Bangladesh who are under constant threat of flooding of climate change.

“The threat is real and the challenge is real, that’s why it’s so important that we continue to work together with the people of Bangladesh.”

In Norway, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toured the remote Norwegian-controlled Arctic archipelago Svalbard, where he warned the region might have no ice within 30 years if present climate trends persist.

Scientists say the area covered by Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest recorded level in summer 2007, increased slightly last year, and will probably be the third lowest on record this year.

If Arctic sea ice disappears, the darker water underneath will absorb more solar energy accelerating climate change.

Mr Ban is trying to drum up support for a strong deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

He said: “One of the very important reasons for my coming to Norway is to see first-hand the dramatic changes to the Arctic and to learn what that means for mankind.

“I would like to draw the attention of the world, for urgent action to be taken at Copenhagen… We do not have much time to lose.”

Ahead of Copenhagen, the UN Secretary General is organising a high-level international meeting in New York on September 22, which US President Barack Obama will attend.

He said he wants leaders “to agree a global deal that is comprehensive, equitable and balanced for the future of humanity and the future of planet Earth”.

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