Food, oil crises should not overshadow climate danger: UN | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2008

Food, oil crises should not overshadow climate danger: UN

Crises over soaring food and oil prices should reinforce rather than distract from the need for action over climate change, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme said on Thursday.
UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said it was inevitable that attention on climate change would abate this year after the intense international focus on it in 2007.
"What we are saying is take a breath, but don't sit back because the situation is actually worse than we thought two years ago," Steiner told AFP.
Steiner was in New Zealand to mark World Environment Day, with the country's capital Wellington hosting a number of international guests and events.
The focus of attempts to reach a global deal to replace the Kyoto plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions moved to Bonn, Germany, this week where 2,400 negotiators are trying to hammer out a deal by the end of next year.
Steiner said any loss of public support for climate change measures -- amid a shift of focus to food and fuel prices -- could spell disaster for a global deal.
"Unless we get back to the levels of public engagement this year we had last year, I worry that we will not have the political will in the international community to reach an agreement," he said.
"World Environment Day should be a signal it's time to get mobilised again."
Worries about future food supplies were closely linked to climate change and should not be seen in isolation, he said.
"The uncertainties and extreme weather events (of climate change) will simply make the food shortages of the future worse, and that is why there is every reason to connect these agendas."
Higher fuel prices were helping curb consumption but rather than cutting fuel taxes, governments and oil companies should use extra oil revenue to develop lower carbon technologies.
UNEP used World Environment Day to issue a guide to explain climate change and offer ways that governments, companies and individuals can reduce their output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which cause global warming.
Scientists warn that climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions could put millions of people at risk by century's end as rainfall patterns change and extreme weather events such as hurricanes increase.
"Either we manage to reach the peak point of carbon emissions on our planet by 2015, or we risk another level of global warming and consequences that go far beyond what is already projected now," Steiner said.

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