7 December 2003

Melting ice 'will swamp capitals

Measures to fight global warming will have to be at least four times stronger than the Kyoto Protocol if they are to avoid the melting of the polar ice caps, inundating central London and many of the world's biggest cities, concludes a new official report.

The report, by a German government body, says that even if it is fully implemented, the protocol will only have a 'marginal attenuating effect' on the climate change. But last week even this was thrown into doubt amid contradictory signals from the Russian government as to whether it will allow the treaty to come into effect.

Global warming already kills 150,000 people a year worldwide and the rate of climate change is soon likely to exceed anything the planet has seen 'in the last million years' says the report, produced by the German Advisory Council on Global Change for a meeting of the world's environment ministers to consider the future of the treaty in Milan this week.

It concludes that the protocol must urgently be brought into force, but only as a first step, insisting that 'catastrophic' climate change 'can now only be prevented if climate protection targets are set at substantially higher levels than those agreed internationally until now'.

Kyoto was a compromise, and a fairly conservative compromise. It was never going to be a complete solution. Neither is ignoring the problem entirely as the Howard government effectively advocates.

You'd be drawing a wide, wide bow to claim that terrorist attacks kill 150 000 annually. But which problem takes priority?

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