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World Science Academies Push For G8 Climate Action

Date: 12-Jun-09
Country: US
Author: Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

World Science Academies Push For G8 Climate Action Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
Smoke billows from chimneys at a chemical factory in Tianjin Municipality in this December 23, 2008 file photo.
Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON - The world's richest countries and those that are developing fastest need to lead the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy to stave off the worst effects of climate change, science academies from these nations said on Thursday.

In a message to the Group of Eight industrialized nations, as well as leaders of fast-growing Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, the academies from these so-called G8+5 countries said that tackling this environmental challenge should be part of efforts to rebuild the global economy.

"The need to find solutions to climate change presents a huge but as yet unrealized opportunity for the creation of new jobs and for the stimulation of new and emerging markets," the statement said.

Released in advance of the July 8-10 G8 meetings in Italy,, the statement offers goals that could be part of any final communique from this gathering, said Mike Clegg, foreign secretary of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

"The goal is to speak to the highest levels of government on the issues that the science community feels are most pressing, and climate is clearly very close or at the top of the list," Clegg said in a telephone interview.

Language from previous statements by the academies on this topic has been included in final communiques at previous G8 meetings, he said.

INCREASED ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The scientists acknowledged that for the near-term, the world will continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy, so increased efficiency and conservation will be key.

They said global cooperation will be needed to set up programs to:

-- capture and sequester climate-warming carbon dioxide;

-- invest in renewable energy technology, including wind, geothermal, solar energy, biofuels and wave power;

-- assure access to natural gas;

-- develop safe nuclear power plants and ensure secure long-term disposal of nuclear waste, working to avoid weapons proliferation, and

-- deploy wide-spread energy conservation, particularly for industry, transport and building design, construction and operation.

The statement drew a strong parallel between climate change and the world economic crisis, and pointed to a December meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen as a deadline for international action to curb greenhouse emissions.

The academies called for agreement by the G8+5 on goals that would yield a 50 percent reduction in global emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

They also said the G8+5 nations should significantly increase fundamental research on earth's climate, on low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies, and on ways to protect and enhance the resilience of natural systems to climate change.

(Editing by David Storey)

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