Kyoto protocol: Adapt or fry

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    Stephanie Diamond Member Supporting Member

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    10:00 10 September 2006
    From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
    Michael Reilly

    Is it all over for Kyoto? Should we accept that global warming is inevitable and plan accordingly?

    Yes, says Frances Cairncross, president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) which held its annual festival in Norwich, UK, this week.

    On Monday Cairncross described the Kyoto protocol as "ineffectual" and called for the world to accept that "a hotter, drier world" is coming - even if everyone fulfils their obligations under Kyoto and pegs levels of carbon dioxide back below the 1990 baseline. "Adaptation policies have had far less attention than mitigation," she told the BA.

    “A hotter drier world is coming even if everyone fulfils their obligations under Kyoto”Now Cairncross is saying the UK should prepare for the inevitable by developing drought-resistant crops, constructing flood defences and perhaps even banning dwellings close to sea level. "We cannot relocate the Amazon or insulate coral reefs, so we need mitigation too, but the [UK] government could and should put in place an adaption strategy straight away," she said.

    "Cairncross is right that the Kyoto protocol alone is not enough to solve the problem of climate change," says John Hay, of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. "But adaptation is already part of the parent convention, although it's true that more funds are needed to help governments."

    Adaptation will be discussed in November at the convention's next meeting, in Nairobi, Kenya.

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