Desperately Seeking Leadership on Climate

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Civil society will have to provide unrelenting leadership if  global carbon emissions are to peak in less than 10 years and go ‘negative’, experts say.

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 15 2009 (IPS)

Global emissions of carbon dioxide must reach a peak in less than 10 years and then begin a rapid decline to nearly zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world’s climate, according to a new report.

Emissions of carbon dioxide will actually need to “go negative” – with more being absorbed than emitted – during the second half of this century, according to “State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World” released by the U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute this week.

“2009 is a pivotal year to deal with climate change,” said Christopher Flavin, president of well-respected Worldwatch Institute (WI), a U.S.-based environmental think tank.

“Humanity will face grave danger if we don’t move forward now,” Flavin told IPS.

Climate change is happening faster and with larger impacts than previously predicted, concludes the 26th annual “State of the World” report, devoted entirely to the challenges and opportunities of global climate change.

Even an additional warming of 2 degrees Celsius poses unacceptable risks to key natural and human systems, warned climate scientist W.L. Hare, one of the report’s 47 contributors.

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