Build inland, U.N. climate report warns
An international panel of scientists has proposed that all countries cease building on coastal land that is less than a metre above the high tide level, so as to avoid some of the worst impacts of climate change.
The recommendation was one of many from experts from 11 countries, working for the United Nations. They have spent two years devising a blueprint to allow countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change in the next century. They warned that tens of millions of people would become environmental refugees as sea levels rose and storm surges increased. Rich countries therefore had to allocate billions of dollars to research and develop cleaner energy sources.
The 166-page report, sponsored by the U.N. Foundation and Sigma Xi, a research society representing 60,000 scientists, comes only three weeks after hundreds of top scientists warned that global temperatures could rise out of control.
The report says the U.N. and governments should be galvanised to respond, and countries should immediately agree to limit further global temperature rises this century to no more than 2 degrees C.
It calls for more public transport and better fuels, and cities based on the highest energy efficiency standards.
The panel said two starkly different futures were possible: "Society's current path leads to increasingly serious impacts... The other path leads to a transformation in the way society generates and uses energy [and] creates economic opportunity, and helps reduce poverty. Humanity must act collectively and urgently to change course through leadership at all levels of society. There is no more time for delay."
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007