Global warming 'is three times faster than worst predictions'
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Published: 03 June 2007
Global warming is accelerating three times more quickly than feared,
a series of startling, authoritative studies has revealed.
They have found that emissions of carbon dioxide have been rising at
thrice the rate in the 1990s. The Arctic ice cap is melting three
times as fast - and the seas are rising twice as rapidly - as had
News of the studies - which are bound to lead to calls for even
tougher anti-pollution measures than have yet been contemplated -
comes as the leaders of the world's most powerful nations prepare for
the most crucial meeting yet on tackling climate change.
The issue will be top of the agenda of the G8 summit which opens in
the German Baltic resort of Heiligendamm on Wednesday, placing
unprecedented pressure on President George Bush finally to agree to
Tony Blair flies to Berlin today to prepare for the summit with its
host, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. They will discuss how to
tackle President Bush, who last week called for action to deal with
climate change, which his critics suggested was instead a way of
delaying international agreements.
Yesterday, there were violent clashes in the city harbour of Rostock
between police and demonstrators, during a largely peaceful march of
tens of thousands of people protesting against the summit.
The study, published by the US National Academy of Sciences, shows
that carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing by about 3 per
cent a year during this decade, compared with 1.1 per cent a year in
The significance is that this is much faster than even the highest
scenario outlined in this year's massive reports by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - and suggests that
their dire forecasts of devastating harvests, dwindling water
supplies, melting ice and loss of species are likely to be
understating the threat facing the world.
The study found that nearly three-quarters of the growth in emissions
came from developing countries, with a particularly rapid rise in
China. The country, however, will resist being blamed for the
problem, pointing out that its people on average still contribute
only about a sixth of the carbon dioxide emitted by each American.
And, the study shows, developed countries, with less than a sixth of
the world's people, still contribute more than two-thirds of total
emissions of the greenhouse gas.
On the ground, a study by the University of California's National
Snow and Ice Data Center shows that Arctic ice has declined by 7.8
per cent a decade over the past 50 years, compared with an average
estimate by IPCC computer models of 2.5 per cent.
In yesterday's clashes, masked protesters hurled flagpoles, stones
and bottles and attacked with sticks forcing police to retreat. The
police said they were suffering "massive assaults" and that the
situation was "very chaotic". They put the size of the demonstration
at 25,000; organisers said it was 80,000.