(AFP) – Nov 13, 2007
VALENCIA, Spain (AFP) — UN climate experts wrangled here Tuesday over a landmark document on global warming amid criticism that the draft report was bland and some of its findings out of date.
One negotiator described the talks among the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as "difficult".
The source said there had been by sharp exchanges over what the document should include and whether it should reflect findings published after a cut-off date for new material.
The document, to be published on Saturday, will distil the IPCC's 2,500-page, three-volume assessment on climate change -- issued earlier this year -- into a 25-page synthesis for policymakers.
Over the next five years, the report is to function as an informed, neutral guide for decision-makers who face policy choices on climate change.
"This is the single source to which all stakeholders will come for unbiased scientific information on climate change," Yan Hong, deputy secretary of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), told delegates on Monday.
Much of the discussion in the opening session was related to sections relating to national sensitivity, sources said.
Peru and Switzerland, for example, were fighting for a specific mention about the impacts of melting glaciers.
The United States, meanwhile, questioned a reference that implied that powerful tropical storms would increase this century. It argued that observational data could be interpreted variously.
The three IPCC reports issued earlier this year predicted that by 2100, global average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 C (1.98 F) and 6.4 C (11.52 F) compared to 1980-99 levels.
Among the already-visible consequences of warming are retreating glaciers and snow loss in alpine regions, thinning Arctic summer sea ice and thawing permafrost, the reports said.
Sea levels would rise by between 18 and 59 centimetres (7.2 and 23.2 inches), driven mainly by thermal expansion of the oceans, as water warms, its volume expands.
But some delegates, notably those from Britain and India, voiced concerns that the final summary, if shorn from the context of the longer reports, would be an inadequate tool for policymakers, a source said.
They also pointed out that the draft failed to take into account recent evidence of accelerated warming, including the shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap, glacier loss in Greenland, a surge in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an apparent slowing of Earth's ability to absorb greenhouse gases.
Other data suggest that sea levels are likely to rise at twice the rate sketched in the earlier IPCC report, driven by glacial runoff.
But according to IPCC ground rules, no new material can be included in the IPCC synthesis beyond the cutoff deadline, which occurred more than a year ago.
The IPCC is meeting for the first time since it won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize last month alongside former US vice president Al Gore, lauded for his campaigning on climate change.
A global conference takes place in Bali, Indonesia, next month, tasked with setting down a "roadmap" towards deeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions beyond 2012, when current commitments expire under the UN's Kyoto Protocol.
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