Added by James Morley on November 30, 2010
Up to a billion people will stand to loose their homes as a result of the failure to agree on a global carbon emission reduction, says a report due to be released at the start of the Cancun climate negotiations.
British scientists also warn that up to three billion people face loosing access to clean drinking water, since it is now too late to stop global temperatures from rising by 4°C before the end of the century.
Dr Mark New, Oxford University climate expert, said: “The main message is that the closer we get to a four-degree rise, the harder it will be to deal with the consequences.” Dr New, who organised the recent conference Four Degrees and Beyond on behalf of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the findings from the conference will published in a special report to coincide with the opening of the Cancun climate summit today.
Richard Betts and other researchers have calculated that a 4°C increase in global temperatures could happen in less than 50 years; with devastating effects on the melting of icecaps, rising sea levels, rainfall and crop yields, among others.
This could result in the creation of “ghost states”, with governments ruling over lands lost to the sea and dispersed citizens, according to François Gemenne at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris.
The current report assumes that even if a global agreement on curbing carbon emissions is reached in the future, such measure would prove insufficient to limit the increase in temperatures to 2°C – the increase agreed by politicians as acceptable.
Following the failure of last year’s Copenhagen climate summit, few experts think that curbing the temperature rise to 2°C is a practical solution: “Two degrees is now a wishful dream,” said Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.