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Research Boost

DW staff (jeg)February 2, 2007

The UN climate panel has issued its strongest ever warning about global warning. The German government says more investment in environmental technology is the way ahead.

Chinese boy on ground that is riven with cracks
Drought will become more likely as climate change acceleratesImage: AP

The German government has announced a 255 million euro ($330.7 million) boost for research into preventing climate change. This comes as the UN climate panel gave its strongest warning yet that human activities are heating up the planet.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in Paris on Friday predicts that temperatures are probably going to increase by 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. It also said sea levels would probably rise by between 28 and 43 centimeters (11 to 17 inches).

German Research Minister Annette Schavan said the cash increase in environmental investment which will be paid over the next three years. It will include 35 million euros for the expansion of the German climate change calculation center.

Technological solutions

Two polar bears on a chunk of ice in the arctic waters off Northern Alaska.
The melting of ice in the Arctic is set to accelerate, endangering the habitats of creatures like polar bears and increasing the probability of floodingImage: AP

Schavan stressed the need for technological change based on well-founded scientific research to curb global warming.

"To keep climate change within acceptable boundaries we have to carry out intensive research and ensure that climate-friendly technologies are rapidly distributed," she said.

The minister also said an action plan for climate change would soon be made public that centered on human and social needs.

"This program will be forward-looking in that it offers technological solutions for the growing economies of our world," Schavan said. "We will also open up new markets for our economy."

More heat waves and violent cyclones

Other projections made by the IPCC report include the increasing likelihood of heat waves and violent tropical cyclones, as well as the melting of the Artic sea ice in summer by 2100.

The document was much more forceful than its last report in judging whether humans were to blame for climate change. It said there was at least a 90 per cent probability that activities such as burning fossil fuels accounted for most of the warming over the past 50 years. In 2001, it said the link was 66 percent probable.

"If you see the extent to which human activities are influencing the climate system, the options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions appear in a different light, because you can see what the costs of inaction are," IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told delegates in Paris.

Humans to blame

A chimney stack belches smoke into the air
The UN wants governments to cut down on the use of fossil fuelsImage: AP

The head of the UN Environment Program Achim Steiner said Friday would be remembered as the day when the question mark was removed from whether people are to blame for climate change.

Steiner, whose agency oversees the operation of the Kyoto protocol, urged governments to put more effort into getting stalled talks on long-term cuts in carbon dioxide emissions back on track. No post-2012 targets have yet been set.

It is hoped that the United States, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, will, in particular, do more to do cut the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.

The US pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 saying emission limits would damage the economy. US President George W. Bush was also critical of the decision to exclude developing nations from the targets during the first phase of the agreement. China's booming industry is not bound by Kyoto.

EU vow to cut emissions

Car exhaust pipe belching fumes
Cars are also a contributor to rising carbon dioxide emissionsImage: AP

Germany has already vowed to make cutting emissions a central aim during its six-month EU presidency. The German environmental ministry also responded to the news of today's report saying the European Union should continue to push for industrialized nations, including the EU, to agree to a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to1990 levels.

"Climate change is a reality that can't be challenged," said German Deputy Environment Minister Michael Müller. "It is already manifesting itself in increasingly extreme events such as heat waves and high levels of precipitation and in the accelerated melting of glaciers and ice caps. The report confirms the necessity of an ambitious climate policy."

Chancellor Angela Merkel has, however, recently come under fire for apparently backtracking on her pledge to tackle global warming and speaking out against blanket emission levels for new cars.