[BALI] Greenhouse gas emissions must start declining within the next 10–15 years and urgent cuts of at least 50 per cent are needed by 2050, climate scientists have declared.
More than 200 experts signed the 'Bali Climate Declaration by Scientists' on the fourth day (6 December) of the UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Among the signatories were scientists from Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States.
The declaration, prepared by the University of South Wales Climate Change Research Centre in Australia, calls for a new international deal on climate change to ensure that global warming does not exceed two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The scientists warn that if emissions are not limited, millions of people will face extreme climate events such as drought and rising sea levels.
Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Centre said the group aims to apply pressure, starting at the Bali negotiations and extending over the next two years or so, for an emissions-cutting agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
"Global greenhouse-gas emissions need to be reduced deeply in order [for global warming] to stay below two degrees Celsius. We are calling for the government negotiators in Bali to recognise the urgency of taking action now," he said at the signing.
England said the signatories support current scientific understanding as set out in UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, which unequivocally conclude that the Earth's climate is warming rapidly and indicate with at least 90 per cent certainty that this is mostly due to human activity.
"It is time to start thinking in terms of what climate science tells you. [Emissions cutting] is expensive and involves some risks, but we can say that the risk will be less if we start now," Richard Sommerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, United States, told SciDev.Net.
"This is a global issue and all nations will have to do their part. I hope the United States will lead, both in reducing emissions and developing technology and providing financial support to developing countries."