The world's top climate scientists gathered in Brussels yesterday to hammer out the summary of a massive report that predicts dire consequences from global warming, especially for poor nations and species diversity.
Even if dramatic measures are taken to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that drive warming, temperatures will continue to climb for decades to come, the experts are set to conclude.
By 2080, according to the report, it is likely that 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people worldwide will experience water scarcity, 200 to 600 million will be threatened by hunger and each year an additional 2 million to 7 million will be victims of coastal flooding.
The report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be unveiled on Friday after 400 experts, meeting behind closed doors, approve a roughly 50-page summary for policymakers.
A final draft of the 1,400-page main document obtained by Agence France Presse assesses the past and future impact of rising temperatures on the planet's physical and ecological systems and inhabitants and evaluates the ability to cope with the predicted changes.
It warns that the brunt of the problems will fall squarely on to the world's poorest inhabitants, who are least to blame for the fossil-fuel pollution that drives global warming.
Hundreds of millions of people living in more than three dozen deltas -- including the Nile in Egypt, the Red River in Vietnam and the Ganges-Brahmaputra in Bangladesh -- are likely to find themselves wedged between rising sea levels and more frequent flooding.
Tropical diseases are likely to spread as well.
Green groups urged industrialized countries, especially the US, which accounts for a quarter of global carbon emissions, to step up action.
"The scientific findings are stronger than ever," Friends of the Earth International's Catherine Pearce said.
"This report is likely to confirm that not only are we seeing the impacts of climate change around us already, but worse is yet to come and the world's poorest people are being hardest hit," she said.
"The devastating impacts of climate change are beginning to affect us today," said Lara Hansen, chief scientist with WWF's Global Climate Change Program.
"Forest fires, coral bleaching, failed crops and species disappearing are all signs of worst things to come. While cutting emissions, governments must address these impacts and protect people and nature," she said.
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