UN advises disaster planning to deal with climate shift
Published 19/11/2011 | 05:00
An increase in heatwaves is almost certain, while heavier rainfall, more floods, stronger cyclones, landslides and more intense droughts are likely across the globe this century as the Earth's climate warms, UN scientists said yesterday.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urged countries to make disaster management plans to adapt to the growing risk of extreme weather linked to human-induced climate change, in a report released in Uganda.
"It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes . . . will occur in the 21st Century on the global scale," the report said.
"It is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of . . . heatwaves will increase," it added.
The risks posed by increasingly erratic weather have been highlighted by a spate of disasters in recent years, such as flooding in Thailand and Australia, droughts in east Africa and Russia and hurricanes in the Caribbean.
The UN, the International Energy Agency and others say global pledges to curb emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not enough to prevent the planet heating up beyond two degrees Celsius, a threshold scientists say risks an unstable climate in which such weather extremes are common.
Global carbon emissions rose by a record amount last year, rebounding on the heels of recession.
The report did not address this, but recommended that action is taken now to shore up the defences of vulnerable states, including early warning systems, better land use planning, restoring ecosystems that act as buffers, enforcing building codes and weather-proofing infrastructure.
Droughts, perhaps the biggest worry for a world with a surging population to feed, were expected to worsen, while there was also a high chance that landslides would be triggered by shrinking glaciers and permafrost.