Monday, November 19, 2007

Global warming could wipe out decades of progress in Asia

Bloomberg: Climate change may cut rice and wheat yields in Asia and wipe out decades of social and economic progress, a report on the environment said. ``An increase of just 1 degree Celsius in night-time temperatures during the growing season will reduce Asian rice yields by 10 percent,'' according to environmental group Greenpeace, one of the contributors to the “Up in Smoke” report. “Wheat production could by fall 32 percent by 2050.”

The report comes just before the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand will pledge to reduce the impact on global warming at their summit meeting in Singapore Nov. 21. ``Slowing and reversing these threats is the defining challenge of our age,'' UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Nov. 17 at the release of the world body's panel report on the climate and emissions, ahead of a conference in Bali on global warming.

…The “Up in Smoke” report said China's wheat, rice and corn yields could fall by as much as 37 percent at the end of the century from drought. WWF, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, the World Council of Churches, and Down to Earth Indonesia were also among the report's 35 contributors. “In India, there have been some recent floods affecting 28 million people and also widespread drought in some Indian states,” Greenpeace said. ``If no action is taken, 30 percent of India's food production could be lost.''

…The report also details the possible effects on individual countries in the region, particularly poorer communities. The UN said keeping greenhouse gases at the current levels would still result in a temperature rise beyond 2100 of at least 2 degrees Celsius, and a sea level increase of at least 40 centimeters.

The report “recommends that the international community commit to meaningful and mandatory emissions cuts to ensure that global temperature increases stay below 2 degrees Celsius,” Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement. The Singapore meeting, called the East Asia Summit, is scheduled to adopt the ``Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment'' Nov. 21. The draft statement, obtained by Bloomberg News, calls for boosting forest cover by 15 million hectares (37 million acres) by 2020 and reducing energy usage per unit of gross domestic production by a quarter by 2030.

The declaration follows a pledge by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expand forest cover by 10 million hectares over the same time frame. Civic groups have said increasing forest cover isn't enough and emissions targets need to be set. Climate change may continue for centuries, and governments will have to spend billions of dollars annually to slow warming and adapt to its effects, a United Nations panel said on Saturday.

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