YOKOHAMA – Along with the enormous risks global warming poses for humanity are opportunities to improve public health and build a better world, scientists at a climate change conference in Yokohama said Tuesday.
About 500 scientists and government representatives from 100 countries meeting in the port city are putting the finishing touches on a massive report emphasizing the gravity of the threat that climate change poses for communities from the polar regions to the tropics.
“Although it focuses on a whole analytical and sometimes depressing view of the challenges we face, it also looks at the opportunities we face,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “This can not only help us to deal with climate change, but ultimately build a better world.”
Japan’s awareness of the severity of climate change has been driven home by record temperatures of over 40 degrees and by unusually heavy snows this winter, said Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara.
Japan plans to release an adaptation plan by summer 2015 that would focus on a more “eco-friendly lifestyle,” he said. That includes improvements in energy efficiency ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We aim to take full environmental consideration so that the Tokyo Games will be the ‘environmental Olympics,’ ” Ishihara said.
Japan is struggling to rein in its own emissions of greenhouse gases after all nuclear plants were shut down following the Fukushima nuclear crisis stemming from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The increased use of fossil fuels to compensate for the lost electricity supply has undone much of the progress the country had made in cutting carbon emissions.
While each region faces its own mix of challenges, research conducted by thousands of scientists around the world underscores the need for urgent measures, Jeremiah Lengoasa, deputy head of the World Meteorological Organization, said in a recorded message to Tuesday’s meeting.
“Time is running out. We must take action,” he said. “It is our obligation and our duty to inform the world of the prospects and risks that lie ahead.”