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Landmark climate change warnings, agreements and controversies

United Kingdom
The Telegraph
Laura Roberts

22 November 2010: UN report warns that the world is on track for "mutually assured destruction" as Copenhagen accord will deliver less than two thirds of carbon emission cuts needed.

However, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner, who is also UN Under-Secretary General, insisted the pledges on the table under the Copenhagen Accord were a "good first step" to combating climate change.

February 2010: Research by hurricane scientists casts doubt over UN climate panel claims that greenhouse gas emissions have caused an increase in tropical storms.

The latest research, published in the Nature Geoscience journal, suggests the rise in hurricane frequency since 1995 was part of a natural cycle and that several similar previous increases have been recorded, each followed by a decline.

The benchmark 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that an increase in hurricane-force storms since 1970 was probably caused by climate change. The IPCC added that the world could expect a big increase in such storms over the 21st century unless greenhouse gas emissions were controlled. The warning helped turn hurricanes into one of the most widely cited threats posed by global warming, with politicians including Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, and Al Gore, the former US vice-president, describing them as a growing threat to humanity.

The new report was commissioned by the World Meteorological Organization, which also oversees the IPCC, to try to resolve a row over the relationship between climate change and tropical storms.

January 2010: The UN's IPCC was forced to apologise after wrongly claiming most of the Himalayan glaciers would vanish within 25 years.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, had warned that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 causing an environmental disaster following the publication of a 3,000 page report which cited more than 10,000 scientific papers in 2007.

There were calls for him to resign as head of the IPCC following the retraction of the flawed projection regarding glacier melt. The IPCC expressed regret for "the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance”.

Pachauri has refused to apologise for the claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035, which came from a report by green group WWF, who had in turn sourced it from a magazine article. "You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report”, he said.

21 December 2009: Copenhagen Climate Change Summit ends in failure after failing to secure a new legally-binding deal on cutting emissions and providing money for poor countries to cope with global warming. Nicknamed "Brokenhagen" by some climate campaigners.

World leaders who had gathered in the Danish capital for the UN summit ended up negotiating a voluntary accord under which countries offered to curb their emissions with the aim of limiting temperature rises to 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The talks were temporarily suspended on December 14 when teams from developing nations walked out.

Documents from summit chairmen called on developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. Pledges added up to about 18%.

December 7: Dr Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chair, opens confernece and says: "The evidence is overwhelming that delay would lead to costs becoming progressively higher”.

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, said: "Finally we sealed a deal... The Copenhagen accord may not be everything everyone had hoped for, but this decision is an important beginning”.

November 2009: Online release of hacked University of East Anglia emails casts doubt over the science around climate change. Released on the eve of the Copenhagen summit the emails showed how the university's Climatic Research Unit attempted to thwart requests for scientific data and other information, and suggest that senior figures at the university were involved in decisions to refuse the requests. Leading British scientists were accused of manipulating climate change data during the scandal which was dubbed "Climategate".

In one e-mail, Professor Phil Jones, the unit's director, asked a colleague to delete e-mails relating to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He also told a colleague that he had persuaded the university authorities to ignore information requests under the Act from people linked to a website run by climate sceptics.

July 9 2009: G8 leaders claim climate change breakthrough after agreeing historic new targets at a summit in Italy. For the first time, America and the other seven richest economies agreed to the goal of keeping the world’s average temperature from rising more than 2C (3.6F). They also agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 as they strove for a worldwide deal at Copenhagen in December.

Gordon Brown said: “Today in Italy we have laid the foundations for a Copenhagen deal that is ambitious, fair and effective. The change from where we were two, three, four years ago is significant. The world has now agreed that the scientific evidence on climate change is compelling.

China and India declined to support the objective of halving their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, flew home.

December 15, 2008: The UN climate change summit in Poznan, Poland ended in acrimony after the developed world failed to agree to a new tax on industry to help poorer countries survive the droughts and floods attributed to climate change. In dramatic scenes developing countries like India and Colombia accused the developed world of abandoning the world's poor.

July 8 2008: G8 nations agree a "goal" to cut carbon emissions by "at least 50%" by 2050. However, critics stressed the vague nature of the language of the agreement reached in Japan saying that a "goal" did not amount to binding targets.

There was also a dispute over the base year from which a 50% cut would be calculated. Campaigners said there should be a reduction from the emission levels of 1990. But there is no mention of this in the communiqué.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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