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Increased global pollution confronts 'Montreal meet'

Carbon dioxide levels now at the highest in 6 lakh years, say scientists

MONTREAL (CANADA): More than 180 nations on Tuesday began grappling with gloomy prospects of increased pollution and global warming at the first meeting on the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, as a political storm unfolded in host nation Canada. Launched on Monday, the 12 day gathering of the U.N. Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is expected to draw between 8, 000 and 10, 000 participants from Governments, business, science and green groups.

Its challenge will be to frame the first steps for crafting pledges on greenhouse gas pollution after the present "commitment period" of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012. "People who have sent their delegates here want real progress," said Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion. "That's why here in Montreal, we have get results."

Scientists warning: Meanwhile, Lord May, the president of Britain's leading scientific body, the Royal Society, warned that global warming was an apocalyptic peril whose effects are already visible.

"The impacts of global warming are many and serious," Lord May said in an advance copy of his speech released on Monday, adding that the environmental problems wrought by greenhouse gases "invite comparison with weapons of mass destruction." The environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth warned that the window of opportunity was closing fast.

Extreme weather: "Extreme weather events, drought and rising sea levels threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Negotiators must remember this as they enter these talks," said Catherine Pearce of Friends of the Earth International. Greenpeace campaigner Steve Sawyer said the meetings urgently had to give a sign that binding caps would remain post-2012, otherwise the world's fledging market in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be wrecked.

U.N. representative Richard Kinley urged industrialised nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming. But experts pointed out that developing countries such as China and India will now have to contribute to anti-pollution controls. The Montreal meeting is the first by the convention since the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 156 countries took effect in February.

The pact commits industrialised nations to making specific cuts in carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases that trap solar heat, thus warming the planet's surface and disrupting its delicate climate system. But the present commitment period does not include the planet's worst polluter, the United States, which walked away from the protocol in 2001 because of the high cost of meeting its Kyoto targets. No does it include fast-growing developing countries, such as China and India, in its pledge on target reductions.

A small step: The present Kyoto period is only just a tinny first step towards tackling greenhouse gases that have increased dramatically in recent decades as fossil fuels are burned to power economic growth. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now at the highest in 650, 000 years, scientists say, and 2005 is likely to go into history books as the warmest year on record. The present Kyoto period is only just a tinny first step towards tackling greenhouse gases that have increased dramatically in recent decades as fossil fuels are burned to power economic growth. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now at the highest in 650, 000 years, scientists say, and 2005 is likely to go into history books as the warmest year on record.

Canada is hosting the meeting amid domestic political upheaval after Prime Minister Paul Martin's embattled minority Government was ousted late on Monday by a 171-133 no-confidence vote in Parliament after months of acrimonious corruption allegations.

The motion came after Mr. Martin rejected an Opposition ultimate to promise to dissolve Parliament in January.

SOURCE: The Hindu Newspaper Dated: 30th November, 2005
 
     
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