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scientists react to the new global analysis on Carbon Dioxide emissions

A new global analysis was commissioned by UNESCO and will be presented at the COP12 climate talks in Nairobi this week.

John Field, Chairman of the CIBSE Carbon Task Force, said:

“We can not ignore climate change any longer and the developed nations must reduce their impact on the environment – showing that economic progress can be made and maintained without the high levels of carbon emissions and depletion of scarce resources that have characterised recent history.

“We welcome the growing recognition of the problem of climate change and the need for international collaboration as the only way forward. Building services engineers operate around the world and are important actors in reducing emissions through their expertise in minimising buildings energy needs and the provision of renewable energy supplies.”

Dr Peter Styring , Postgraduate Research Tutor and EPSRC Senior Media Fellow, said:

“Carbon dioxide capture remains a challenge. There need to be real incentives to produce reliable and sustainable technologies quickly. We cannot take the approach that we are too late to make an effect: that would be just burying our heads in the ground. We need to act now not only for the present but for the future, firstly by addressing CO2 capture at source from power stations and incinerators, and then by addressing capture from the atmosphere.

“The problem is what to do with the CO2 we capture. Storage is a very short term approach. We need to look at the carbon economy: recycling CO2 to give high value commodity chemicals and fuels through catalytic activation and conversion.

“The Department of Chemical & Process Engineering at The Sheffield University are heading a consortium based around eight top UK universities to address this issue. Called C-Cycle it will look at new catalysts and processes to harness heat and power from CHP units and municipal waste incinerators to convert CO2 back into useful chemical feedstocks.”

Professor Jeffery Burley, Chairman of the Board, C-Questor, said:

“This report demonstrates that carrots and sticks are vital and urgent for all possible carbon capture and storage technologies. Afforestation, reforestation and avoided deforestatioin have great potential for both temporary and permanent carbon storage while offering many other environmental and socioeconomic benefits such as the conservation of biological diversity, the production of nutriceuticals and pharmaceuticals, and the restoration of degraded land.”

Professor Ian Fells, Director, Fells Associates and independent energy consultant, said:

“In Libya today petrol is 5p per litre, global warming is not on the agenda; until it is, the Middle East presents as big a problem as China or India.”

Dr Pete Falloon, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, said:

“This work highlights the pressing importance of quick, effective action to combat climate change.”

Dr Jim Watson, Deputy Leader of Tyndall Climate Change and Energy Programme, said:

“This report shows how important it is for all countries to work towards more ambitious climate targets within the next phase of international action beyond 2012. Action to persuade the US and large developing countries such as China and India to work towards such an agreement is particularly crucial. So is the acceleration of technological co-operation initiatives to help developing countries – particularly China – to move to a lower carbon development pathway.”

Prof Bill McGuire, Director, Benfield Hazard Research Centre, said:

“This is more very bad news. We need a 60 – 70 percent cut in carbon emissions, but instead emission levels are spiralling out of control. The sum total of our meagre efforts to cut emissions amounts to less than zero.

“Continuing along this suicidal path is going to make dangerous climate change inevitable – and soon.”

Professor Ian Arbon, Chairman, Energy, Environment & Sustainability Group at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“While this press release is correct and is welcomed, it is also a statement of the blindingly obvious – we did not need lots of people to travel unsustainably around the world to know this! Accordinging to recent reports, the Chinese are commissioning a new 1GW coal-fired power station every five days and will continue to do so for years to come; this is a fact of life and hand-wringing over the subject will not change it.

“It is encouraging to see the conventional Carbon Dioxide concentration figures being used in this release, rather than the “CO2-equivalent” numbers in the Stern Report, which seem to have confused everyone; however, these numbers should always be given as “ppmv” (parts per million by volume), rather than just “ppm” – this to distinguish the figures from parts per million by mass, which would be a very different figure indeed.”

Professor Paul Crutzen, Professor of Chemistry at the Max Plank Institute for Chemistry in Germany and Nobel Prize winner, said:

“The jump in emissions is remarkable. One would expect a smoother transition but it seems there has been a tremendous shift in the past five years. The lower rate in the 1990s was most likely due to the collapse of the communist regime. Unfortunately, once emissions go up it’s very hard to bring them down again.”

Professor Will Steffen, Pro Vice Chancellor of research at the Australian National University, said:

“For the first time this work puts together the current trends in the carbon cycle particularly the upturn in emissions, the vulnerability of the natural carbon sinks on which we rely and the daunting implications for stabilising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

Dr Graeme Pearman Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, said:

“The work shows that in the last few years, rather than there being signs that there is a developing control of emissions, on the contrary the evidence shows emissions rising at a rate that will only make future control more difficult. It demonstrates the absolute urgency of the global community getting on with the task of emissions reduction.

“The Global Carbon Project involves some of the worlds leading experts on global carbon and it is designed to extend its reach to include the human, biological as well as the physical aspects of the carbon cycle.”

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