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Climate Commission’s first report says warming is beyond denial and planting …

May 22nd, 2011 Australia

Climate change

The Climate Commission has released its first report into rising temperatures and fossil fuels.
Source: AP

NO amount of tree-planting or using biofuels in cars will stop the planet warming, the first report by the Climate Commission warns.

The findings are a blow to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who opposes the Government’s carbon tax and has instead proposed to combat global warming through an offsets policy.

The report, which pulled together the latest peer-reviewed science on climate change, concluded that the controversial science behind climate change was beyond denial.

“The atmosphere is warming, the ocean is warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps and sea levels are rising,” it said.

“Global surface temperature is rising fast; the last decade was the hottest on record. Human activities — the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation — are triggering the changes we are witnessing in the global climate.”

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The release of the report, Critical Decade: Climate Science Risks and Responses, comes ahead of a Federal Parliament forum on climate change tomorrow.

Its author, the Australian National University’s Professor Will Steffen, said offsetting simply could not substitute for cutting the greenhouse gas emissions which were rapidly changing the planet.

“We have to reduce fossil fuel use and while locking away carbon dioxide can be a good thing, it can’t work alone,” Prof Steffen said.

“It must be accompanied by fossil fuel use and emissions reductions.”

“Putting carbon dioxide into, say, soil, doesn’t actually remove it from the ecosystem and it can be vulnerable to changes in land use. It’s really an emphasis on moving around carbon dioxide rather than reducing its creation, which has to be done by cutting fossil fuel-burning emissions.

“Poorly constructed offsetting could lock in more severe climate change for the future.”

His report advocated a different “pathway” to emission reductions, one it called “the budget approach”.

“Instead of targets and timetables, cutting emission rates by so much each year evenly to try to limit temperature rises to 2C by 2050, we actually work backwards,” Prof Steffen said.

“The budget approach sees far more flexibility so that your emissions might be far larger now, but with a pay-off in the future.”

The next decade would be critical to fighting climate change, he said.