There is still time to prevent dangerous climate change, but only if nations take bold international action to drastically reduce their use of fossil fuels, says Friends of the Earth ahead of a key UN scientific report, published on Sunday 13th April 2014.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment, Working Group 3 report is expected to identify a number of possible pathways for the world to take. It will set out that to avoid the planet heating up by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels the world must largely wean itself off fossil fuels. Two degrees of warming would have significant negative impacts on food production, water availability and lead to more extreme weather events, particularly affecting the poorest in the world. Around a third of wildlife species would also be under threat of extinction. Four degrees of warming would be devastating for people everywhere.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director, Andy Atkins, said:

We can only avoid catastrophic climate change if we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – we’re already on track for four degrees warming which will be impossible for human society to adapt to.

Drilling in the North sea by Hannes Grobe

Drilling in the North sea by Hannes Grobe

The developing countries that have done the least to cause climate change need financial support from richer nations for low carbon growth. Globally funded feed-in tariffs to boost the use of solar power would be a good start.

We have the technology to prevent dangerous climate change. What we lack is the political will of our leaders to strongly champion renewable power and energy efficiency.

But it’s not all gloom. Millions of people across the globe are already working to transform our energy systems, protect our food supplies and safeguard our planet and its people – including here in the UK where communities are saying no to fracking and yes to clean energy.”

Responding to reports that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage should be used, Andy Atkins added:

Bioenergy does have a limited role in providing the energy we need, but not when it conflicts with food production or biodiversity protection. It mustn’t be allowed to threaten our forests, peat-lands or grasslands as these are important carbon stores.

Carbon capture and storage remains as yet an unproven technology, so the focus right now must be on proven tools for reducing emissions such as solar power, wind energy and sustainable farming.

It would be dangerous to rely on stripping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere without knowing more about the risks involved, the costs and limits to storing it safely.

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