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Global Warming Battle Lines Drawn Up As Sceptics Pour Cold Water On Kyoto  Chris Mole - Associate Editor

22nd September 2004

A battle is heating up between sceptics of global warming and those who fear it’s the most serious problem facing humanity. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a passionate supporter of the Kyoto Protocol, is vowing to force international action to reduce greenhouse gases and has laid out a 3-point strategy to tackle a phenomenon he believes could become “irreversible in its destructive power.”

But the same week, several prominent US economists have condemned the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for using “faulty economic assumptions” in making global warming predictions. Their attack comes in a report by the US Republican Policy Committee, which claims global warming predictions are “implausibly high” because the IPCC has vastly overestimated future green-house gas emissions.

The pro and anti-Kyoto factions look set to slug it out during the next 12 months as Blair moves to make global warming the centrepiece of Britain’s presidency of the G8 industrialised countries in 2005. Blair points to violent weather around the world this year as evidence for global warming and says the richest countries create most of the problem while the poorest bear the brunt. He’s made no secret of his annoyance with the Bush administration in the US for its continued opposition to Kyoto and acknowledges the majority in the US Senate are still against it.

Blair’s 3-point plan, outlined in a speech in London, is:
- to reach agreement among the G8 on what causes climate change and the threat it poses,
- to agree on scientific and technological measures to tackle it, and
- to persuade countries beyond the G8, notably China and India, to act to cut greenhouse gases.

Blair says “if there were even a 50% chance the scientific evidence (for global warming) is right, the bias in favour of action would be clear. But of course it is far more than 50%.”

In 2001, the IPCC warned over the next 100 years, the world’s average temperature will increase between 1.4 degrees C and 5.8 degrees C due to rising emissions of greenhouse gases. But this prediction is being vehemently challenged by the US Republican Policy Committee, which claims in its report that several distinguished scientists who are peer reviewing the IPCC’s findings have serious reservations about them.

The report notes several studies showing even a 1.4 degrees C rise in world temperature is “implausibly high” because the IPCC vastly overestimates future greenhouse gas emissions. It suggests the IPCC is manipulating data to “serve political ends. Thus, there may indeed be cause for alarm – not necessarily with the scientific data itself, but with its misuse.”

The report concludes: “Policymakers should approach the IPCC’s claims with a healthy dose of scepticism before considering whether restrictions on energy use based on the IPCC’s conclusions are warranted.”

Blair’s full speech is at www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page6333.asp.
The US Republican Policy Committee Report is at:

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