Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Cuts in carbon dioxide emissions urged


"The world's chief climate scientist on Tuesday disputed the U.S. government contention that cutbacks in carbon dioxide emissions are not yet warranted to check global warming.

Experts readied a report, meanwhile, saying 2004 will be one of the warmest years on record.

'The science says you've got to reduce emissions,' Rajendra K. Pachauri told The Associated Press in an interview midway through a two-week international climate conference.

The Kyoto Protocol, the international accord requiring cuts in carbon dioxide, 'is driven by the need to reduce emissions, and on that there is no question,' said Pachauri, chairman of a U.N.-sponsored network of climatologists.

Scientists largely blame the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other 'greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere for the rising temperatures of the past century.


The United States is a member of the umbrella U.N. treaty on climate change, and it signed that treaty's Kyoto Protocol in 1997. But President Bush renounced the Kyoto agreement in 2001, saying emission reductions would hurt the U.S. economy.

Before leaving for the annual climate-treaty talks, U.S. negotiator Harlan Watson told reporters in Washington that the United States - the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide - would eventually stop the growth in its emissions 'as the science justifies.' After arriving here, he said the Kyoto Protocol's approach was 'not based on science.'

Asked about Watson's statements, Pachauri was emphatic.

'The science says you've got to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The science says you've got to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,' he said. 'What may be subject to uncertainty and subject to debate is who is to reduce how much.'


Pachauri said the evidence of change is everywhere - in the doubling of extreme weather events recorded by the World Meteorological Organization, in the melting of glaciers worldwide, and in the one-degree global temperature rise of the past century.

'The evidence is so strong, the observations so strong, it's very difficult to close your eyes to it,' he said. "

One of two things will likely follow: either the administration will put together a blue ribbon panel to undertake a multiyear study into exactly what Dr. Pachauri meant when he used ambiguous phrase like "reduce emissions" and "no question," or they will dismiss him out of hand because he looks too much like Osama bin Laden.


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