Scientists warn G8 of climate peril to food

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PARIS (AFP) – Scientists from Group of Eight countries and the five biggest emerging nations urged next month’s G8 summit to ratchet up action against global warming, warning that climate change threatened food and water supplies.

The 13 academies called for leaders to commit to a goal — sketched in the 2007 Heiligendamm summit as something they would “seriously consider” — that would halve global emissions of carbon gases by 2050.

They also demanded urgent action to improve energy efficiency and expand renewable energy and for a timetable, to be drawn up by 2009, for building “carbon capture” plants to snare carbon dioxide from power stations and other big emitters.

“Progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emission has been slow,” they said. “Climate change is a pressing issue for today.”

“Key vulnerabilities include water resources, food supply, health, coastal settlements and some ecocystems, particuarly Arctic, tundra, alpine and coral reef.

“The most sensitive regions are likely to include the Arctic, Africa, small islands and the densely-populated Asian mega-deltas,” the statement added.

In a press statement, Martin Rees, president of Britain’s Royal Society, said: “Food and water shortages are now a dangerous reality particularly in many developing countries.

“In the coming years, they will be aggravated by rising populations, and climate change. These threats must be properly assessed and solutions identified if we are to avoid costly mistakes from investing in technologies and infrastructure that do not take climate change into account.”

The joint statement was signed by the heads of the national academies of science of the G8 countries and of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

It is the fourth appeal on climate change issued by the 13 academies ahead of the annual summit of the G8, which comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The first appeal came ahead of the 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

This year’s summit runs from July 7-9 in Toyako, a lakeside resort on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

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