UK climate chief supports IPCC, says GHG impact well known
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Last Updated: Sunday, January 31, 2010, 19:16
London: British Climate Secretary Ed Miliband on Sunday came out in strong support of the R K Pachauri led UN panel on climate change, slamming the "siren voices" gunning for the panel over allegations of exaggeration of global warming claims.

Extending support to the IPCC, Miliband said the effects of concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is at highest levels in 6,000 years, were all too well known and that "we know there are observed increases in temperatures and observed effects that point to the existence of human-made climate change".

"Mistakes and attempts to hide contradictory data had to be seen in the light of the thousands of pages of evidence in the IPCC's four-volume report in 2007," he said referring to the IPCC report that has been surrounded by controversies.

"It's right that there's rigour applied to all the reports about climate change, but I think it would be wrong that when a mistake is made it's somehow used to undermine the overwhelming picture that's there," he said.

The most recent accusation against the panel's work is that its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, may have known before the Copenhagen summit that its assessment report had seriously exaggerated the rate of melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

However, Miliband said he believed the IPCC was on right track. "It’s worth saying that no doubt when the next report comes out it will suggest there have been areas where things have been happening more dramatically than the 2007 report implied".

Miliband said the danger of climate skepticism was that it would undermine public support for unpopular decisions needed to curb carbon emissions, including the likelihood of higher energy bills for households and issues such as the visual impact of wind turbines.

"There are a whole variety of people who are skeptical, but who they are is less important than what they are saying, and what they are saying is profoundly dangerous," he said.

Miliband said if the UK did not invest in renewable, clean-energy, it would lose jobs and investment to other countries, have less energy security because of the dependence on oil and gas imports and contribute to damaging temperature rises for future generations. "Everything we know about life is that we should obey the precautionary principle; to take what the skeptics say seriously would be a profound risk," he said.

Admitting the Copenhagen summit was a "disappointment," Miliband said there were, however, important achievements including the agreement by countries responsible for 80 per cent of emissions to set domestic carbon targets.

"There's a message for people who take these things seriously, don't mourn, organize," said Miliband, who has previously called for a Make Poverty History-style mass public campaign to pressure politicians into cutting emissions.

Lord Smith, the environment Agency chairman, said: "The Himalayan glaciers may not melt by 2035, but they are melting and there's a serious problem that's going to affect substantial parts of Asia over the course of the next 100 or more years".


First Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010, 19:16

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