Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Climate change targets too low: academic

ABC News Online, Posted 1 hour 3 minutes ago 

Updated 43 minutes ago

New research warns measures to cut greenhouse gases need to be ramped up to keep temperature increases below dangerous levels.

An Australian National University report found the earth's ability to absorb carbon will decline as global warming increases, accelerating the rate of temperature change.

The report's principal author, Andrew Macintosh, says this process is known as climate-carbon cycle feedbacks.

"As global warming continues then there is a significant risk that the uptake of carbon by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems will decline and as a result a greater proportion of each unit of emissions will stay in the atmosphere," he said.

"Now that's bad because it will result in a higher concentration of carbon in the atmosphere and as a result, greater warming."

Mr Macintosh says the importance of climate-carbon cycle feedbacks is often overlooked by policy makers.

"Decision makers often rely on data that do not fully account for this information," he said.

"That could result in abatement targets being set too low and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration objectives being exceeded."

Mr Macintosh says greater emission cuts are needed to keep the temperature rise below 3 degrees.

He says the current target of a 60 per cent cut by 2050 is unlikely to be effective.

"Sixty per cent is clearly inconsistent with trying to keep temperatures to 2 degrees and is more consistent with trying to keep temperatures to 4 degrees," he said.

"So clearly outside of the bounds of what a large number of people are now saying is the trigger for dangerous climate change."

No comments: