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  Yahoo News 18 Oct 07
UN climate chief urges action on global warming

Yahoo News 19 Oct 07
Nobel-winning climate chief warns Asia at risk
by Harumi Ozawa

Straits Times 20 Oct 07
Global warming may displace millions of people: Reports
Bhagyashree Garekar

Straits Times 20 Oct 07
US military planners target climate change
Bigger threat to global security than terrorism, experts warn
By Bhagyashree Garekar

Straits Times 20 Oct 07
Nobel prize will help keep focus on climate issues: Professor
By Nilanjana Sengupta

THE Nobel Peace Prize given to Mr Al Gore will help scientists focus the world's attention on pressing issues like 'climate refugees', says Professor Wong Poh Poh, a member of the UN panel which shared the award with the former US vice-president.

Prof Wong, one of the lead authors on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has released four grim reports on the dangers of global warming, said he 'never ever expected' the award.

But now that it has happened, he thinks the joint winners complement each other, although there have been concerns about why a non-scientist was awarded the prize.

'Those who don't want to think about what scientists are saying will now at least listen to Al Gore,' Prof Wong said of the politician turned environment activist who won an Oscar for his documentary on climate change called An Inconvenient Truth.

And there is much to pay attention to. Experts this week linked the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region partly to drought and food shortages resulting from changes in weather patterns.

Though the conflict that has killed over 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million is described as racially motivated, UN statistics show that failing rainfall over the past 20 years also caused friction over access to land.

'Many governments realise that climate change is a security issue and not just an environmental one. Droughts and floods destabilise a country and displace people, forcing them to cross borders and become refugees,' Prof Wong, of the National University of Singapore's Geography Department, told The Straits Times in an interview.

He noted that the spectre of growing numbers of 'climate refugees' hangs over governments.

'When islands are affected by rising sea levels, where will the people go?' he said.

Another pressing issue is the impact of rising temperatures on rainfall patterns and crop production.

These issues are expected to be revisited at a climate change meeting in Bali. The December event has been tasked with updating the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Prof Wong, who with about 3,000 other scientists and experts has outlined the severity of the problem in the IPCC's latest report, is optimistic that the representatives of more than 180 countries will go through the report carefully 'and use it as much as possible'.

'Though two weeks is a very short time, if they are able to pinpoint the basic principles of a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, that will be very good already,' he said.

Straits Times 20 Oct 07
US military planners target climate change
Bigger threat to global security than terrorism, experts warn
By Bhagyashree Garekar

WASHINGTON - IN THE days before former US vice-president Al Gore and a United Nations panel on climate change were named the winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, the United States Senate passed a defence Bill with a significant detail that went largely unnoticed.

Alongside the headline-grabbing provisions on the Iraq war, a clause in the defence authorisation Bill asked the Pentagon to consider the effects of climate change on US military capabilities, facilities and missions.

More specifically, the provision directed military planners to keep the impact of climate change in mind when developing the next quadrennial defence review, national security strategy and national defence strategy.

The Nobel award has brought fresh focus on the connection between global warming and peace, but the Pentagon has been mulling over the links for a few years now, even as the Bush administration continues to be criticised for a slow response to climate change issues.

The clause in the defence Bill followed from recommendations made about a year ago by a panel of retired generals and admirals who studied the impact of climate change on national security for CNA Corp, a non-profit research firm.

'Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the US,' the report noted.

Another research effort under way at the Washington-based Centre for Defence Information is looking at international security implications of projections of millions of environmental refugees, crop failures, droughts, floods and hurricanes thrown up by climate experts.

Some dire scenarios, including the prospect of a nuclear war, surface in a 2004 report commissioned by the Pentagon.

This report, put out by CIA consultant Peter Schwartz - a former head of planning at the Royal Dutch/Shell Group - and California-based Global Business Network's Doug Randall, warned that the threat to global security from climate change would eclipse that from terrorism.

An abrupt climate change would bring the planet close to anarchy, the report said.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' it said, adding that countries would resort to nuclear warfare to secure water, food and energy supplies.

Said Mr Rafe Pomerance, the president of the bipartisan Climate Policy Centre: 'Climate change is not just an environmental concern but a much bigger issue. It's a matter of food and security, economy and trade, war and peace. And it will place enormous stress on governments.'

He gave the example of the Arctic regions where melting ice caps are expected to expose natural resources buried underneath.

'The Russians have planted their flag there, as have the Danes and the Canadians and now naval vessels are seen in the area. It raises geopolitical issues such as who owns such resources,' he said.

Closer to home, the social breakdown in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was a sobering lesson to Americans, said Mr Pomerance, who was a negotiater on climate issues in the Clinton administration as deputy assistant secretary of state.

Said Ms Vicki Arroyo, the director of policy analysis at the Pew Centre for Climate Change think-tank: 'No country can wall off the impact of climate change and the Nobel Peace Prize helps raise awareness and wins sympathy for such issues.'

Straits Times 20 Oct 07
Global warming may displace millions of people: Reports
Bhagyashree Garekar

THE link between climate change and peace has been made in various studies by climate experts, economists and anthropologists.

Some of them, including the reports published this year by the Geneva-based UN panel on climate change and by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern, highlight the phenomenon of environmental refugees - massive population migrations forced by natural disasters and other changes in habitat triggered by climate change.

Some projections show that if sea levels rise just 6m as a consequence of global warming - this will happen if the Greenland glaciers melt and nothing more - 93 million Chinese will be displaced.

Many more millions of environmental refugees would be created by the loss of land mass expected around the world - in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and the Arabian Gulf.

Still other projected impacts include fresh-water shortage, changing crop seasons and the spread of infectious disease - which have implications for human health and global commerce.

Various anthropological studies have linked the unexplained disappearance of the South American Mayan civilisation and of some ancient dynasties of eastern China to climate change.

Some experts, including Professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute, link conflicts such as in Darfur, which led to over 200,000 deaths, to desertification arising from climate change.

But others say that fears of climate change are unfounded or exaggerated and that the changes lie within the realm of natural variations which have been seen throughout history.

Opinion also varies on whether conflict can be conclusively traced to climate change.

'I am...happy that the committee has not come up with a very strong link between climate change and armed conflict because that is something we know very little about,' Mr Stein Toennesson, head of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said after the Nobel Peace Prize committee announcement last week of the joint winners as former US vice-president Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Another well-known sceptic is Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who derides global warming as a green scare.

Mr Klaus 'is a bit surprised that Mr Gore has received a peace prize, because the connection between his activities and world peace are vague and not very clear', his office said.

Yahoo News 19 Oct 07
Nobel-winning climate chief warns Asia at risk
by Harumi Ozawa

The head of a UN climate panel that shared the Nobel Peace Prize warned Friday that Asia was particularly vulnerable to global warming, with the continent set for more disasters unless action is taken.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that fighting greenhouse gasses entailed more than adopting new technologies, with individuals required to change their lifestyles.

"Asia being the rapidly growing continent with the largest share of the human population located over here, clearly vulnerabilities in Asia are going to be of importance," Pachauri told an environmental conference in Tokyo.

The Indian scientist said Asia risked floods and diminished access to fresh water and food supply if global warming continued unabated.

"Poor communities are of course at the highest risk," he said, explaining that they did not have the capacity to adapt to climate change.

"In the case of coastal areas, flooding of the residences of millions of people could take place in South, Southeast and East Asia."

He warned that the vital agricultural production of Asia's densely populated delta regions would be in jeopardy if temperatures kept rising.

Pachauri's panel, a network of 3,000 experts regarded as the world's top scientific authority on global warming, shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president turned environmental activist Al Gore.

Pachauri applauded the Nobel committee, which announced the award a week ago, for linking climate change to peace and stability in the world.

"I thought the Nobel Peace Prize committee has taken some of these factors into account," he said.

"We already have several areas of the world where there is intense competition for water resources. If these become more scarce, then the danger of conflict obviously will increase, substantially."

The brutal conflict in Darfur has sometimes been referred to as the world's first war triggered by climate change. UN statistics show that rainfall has diminished 40 percent in the Sudanese region over the past two decades, causing drought and intense friction over access to the land.

At the two-day conference sponsored by Global Environmental Action, a group created by Japanese politicians, business leaders and scholars, Pachauri applauded Japan for taking an initiative in battling climate change.

"One of the major findings we have is the importance of lifestyle changes," he said. "This problem cannot be treated as one which requires (a) technological fix only.

"(There) has to be a change in human behaviour. And I think in this regard I must say Japan is setting an outstanding example," he said.

He applauded Japan's "Cool Biz" campaign, in which politicians and bureaucrats are encouraged to shun their usual jackets and ties in the summer to cut down on air-conditioning.

"The time has come for us to drastically shift our lifestyle in a way that is more friendly to the earth to become a sustainable society," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told the conference.

Japan was host of the 1997 negotiations that drafted the Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in greenhouse gases by developed countries, and the country has sought a leading role in drafting the successor to the landmark treaty.

Yahoo News 18 Oct 07
UN climate chief urges action on global warming

The head of the UN climate panel that shared the Nobel Peace Prize last week said Thursday there was still time for the world to turn around the global warming trend as he visited Japan for talks.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told a press conference the Nobel prize committee's decision showed it believed climate change was a threat to world peace.

"This clearly indicates that they are aware of the fact that if we don't do something about the problem, peace and stability can be threatened," said the Indian scientist.

"It is essential for us to stabilise the concentration of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, because otherwise there will be increasing misery," he said.

Pachuari is in Japan to give the keynote address at a two-day environmental conference sponsored by Global Environmental Action, a group created by Japanese politicians, business leaders and scholars.

He said the increased incidence of floods, severe storms, heat waves and droughts due to largely man-made climate change were the cause of much human suffering.

"Most of the change that has taken place in the last 50 years is essentially the result of human activities," he said.

The environmental "stress" on the globe was harming lives, but solutions were already available, he said

"Fortunately, the mitigation options that can be used for solving these problems and stabilising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are not expensive at all. We have clearly established that," he said.

"We also established that all the technologies that you need for reducing the emission of greenhouse gases are available today," he said.

The IPCC will issue a fresh 30-page report next month, offering possible policy and mitigation options for decision-makers around the world, he said.

Disincentives such as financial charges on emission gas producers should further promote the use of environmental technologies, he added.

Pachuari called on Japan to lead international efforts to tackle the issue, particularly through the use of technology.

He added that although the United States, the world biggest economy, may seem hesitant to adopt aggressive environmental policies, many American communities and companies had implemented sound environmental policies.

"I think all of this in a federal structure, in a democracy, will definitely influence the position of the federal government," he said.

The IPCC, regarded as the world's top scientific authority on global warming and its impact, shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president turned environmental activist Al Gore.

The panel, comprising around 3,000 experts, has released grim but increasingly influential reports warning that humans are causing global warming.

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