New York, Jul 20 2009  7:00PM

The world’s largest economies have “clearly ignored” the findings of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations scientific body that evaluates climate change when formulating their recent proposals on slashing greenhouse gases, a top official said today.

It was a “big step” for leaders of over one dozen developed nations attending the Major Economies Forum (MEF) – including the Group of Eight (G8) nations and others – on 9 July meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, to recognize that the global average temperature should not increase by more than 2 degrees centigrade, Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (<“http://www.ipcc.ch/”>IPCC), told reporters in New York today.

But they have disregarded the IPCC’s findings that emissions will have to reach their pinnacle in 2015 and rapidly decline thereafter, he said.

“If the G8 leaders agreed on this 2-degree increase as being the limit that could be accepted, then I think they should have also accepted the attendant requirement of global emissions peaking by 2015,” Mr. Pachauri said.

At the very least, he added, the countries should have “categorically” committed to cuts by 2020, the date agreed to at the landmark 2007 UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The official also pointed out that despite committing to “deep cuts” in emissions, the leaders of the MEF nations have yet to discuss the substance of the reductions.

“The science is getting clear,” Mr. Pachauri underlined.

“The gaps in our knowledge are certainly filling up,” he said, stressing the need for “the global community to take action” and ensure that this December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, ends with countries wrapping up negotiations on a strong successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

An IPCC meeting in Venice, Italy, last week drew 200 climate change experts from all over the world to discuss the focus of the body’s next assessment report – considered to be the most comprehensive study globally on global warming – due to be released in 2014.

While in L’Aquila earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon <“http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=3967”>warned that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions proposed by the MEF nations, “while welcome, are not sufficient.”

Underscoring that “the time for delays and half-measures is over,” he stressed that “the personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.”

To support countries in their bid to conclude a successor pact in December to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012, the Secretary-General is convening a high-level summit – expected to be the largest climate change gathering this year – in New York on 22 September.

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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