Friday, September 14, 2007

Climate change and desertification two sides of same coin

Terra Daily: Climate change and desertification are two sides of the same coin and must be tackled together, according to participants at the Madrid conference on desertification. "These two issues are very intimately related in the way you can describe them as two halfs of a coin," according to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Spanish Environment Minister Cristina Narbona also addressed the twin problem during a round table discussion Wednesday on "desertification and adaptation to climate change" at the UN-sponsored conference which opened on September 3. "Desertification, the loss of biodiversity and climate change are three inextricably linked aspects" of the problem being addressed at the conference by ministers and scientists from around the globe, according to de Boer.

"Climate change already has had a major impact on desertification and what the scientists are telling us is that if we fail on climate change the impact in terms of desertification is going to be much worse because you'll see changes in rainfall pattern leading to more desertification," said de Boer, a Dutchman.

"Not putting in place renewable sources of energy will lead to people cutting more trees to produce fire wood and contribute to further desertification. About 80 percent of deforestation in tropical areas is caused by people gathering fire wood simply to cook their food," de Boer added….

Spain is all too aware of the urgency to act with one third of its territory facing desertification which requires action such as more efficient watering of crops and better desalinisation techniques for seawater supplies. In de Boer's view, what is in short supply is "the application and concrete realisation of policies."

This eighth conference bringing together the 191 signatory nations to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCDD) will at the end of the conference on Friday seek to ratify a ten-year action plan to combat desertification.

…De Boer concluded that the conference would, having underlined the link between climate change and desertification, stress that nations "need to act on those two issues in synergy."

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