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Landmark Climate Change Report

United Nations — The great weight of science still supports the findings in a landmark 2007 report from a United Nations-backed panel of experts that global warming is man-made, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said today following recent attacks from climate change sceptics over a mistake in the assessment.

Defending the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) against criticism for a mistake made in its 2007 report over the rate at which the Himalayan glaciers would melt, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that the panel has drawn upon the expertise of thousands of the best scientific minds for some 22 years.

“It is quite right to pinpoint errors, make corrections, and check and re-check sources for accuracy and credibility,” Mr. Steiner wrote in an opinion piece published in Turkey’s English-language Today’s Zaman.

However, the “time has really come for a reality check,” said Mr. Steiner, noting that the IPCC has acknowledged the need for stringent and transparent quality-control procedures to minimize any such risks in future reports.

“The overwhelming evidence now indicates that greenhouse-gas emissions need to peak within the next decade if we are to have any reasonable chance of keeping the global rise in temperature down to manageable levels,” he said.

“Any delay may generate environmental and economic risks of a magnitude that proves impossible to handle.”

Mr. Steiner warned that even without climate change the fact remains that a global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient future is necessary, given the world’s population is rise from 6 billion to 9 billion in the next 50 years.

“We need to improve management of our atmosphere, air, lands, soils, and oceans anyway,” he said. “What is needed is an urgent international response to the multiple challenges of energy security, air pollution, natural-resource management, and climate change.”

He concluded that rather than undermining the IPCC’s work, efforts should be re-doubled to support its task in assembling the science and knowledge for the fifth assessment report in 2014.

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Invasive Alien Species: Zebra Mussels

Zebra Mussels Invade Lough Bresk
Northern Ireland Environment Agency

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency confirmed that the Zebra Mussel, has been found for the first time at Lough Bresk, County Fermanagh. The first sighting in Northern Ireland was in 1994 at Lough Erne and they have since been reported in Lough Neagh. Zebra Mussel’s have significantly altered fish communities in Lough Erne and are a major risk to the future of some freshwater fisheries.

The Most Unwanted
Zebra Mussels

The zebra mussel is a stripey, freshwater mussel native to Eastern Europe. They spread naturally in water currents within connected lakes and river systems. Outside connected waterways they are spread mainly by recreational activities such as boating and fishing.

They form large colonies that attach to almost any hard surface such as rocks, boat hulls and jetties. Northern Ireland is one of the most recent regions to have been invaded by Zebra Mussels. They originate from the Caspian and Black Sea and spread across canal networks in Europe in the late 18th century, reaching England by 1824 They didn’t arrive in Ireland until 1994, and spread rapidly throughout the Shannon-Erne waterway and connected navigable water bodies. In 2005, they were found in Lough Neagh.

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Copenhagen Accord: 55 Countries Agree to Cut GHG Emissions

The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced on February 1 that it has received national pledges from 55 countries to limit and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020. The Copenhagen Accord, an agreement reached at the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, called for countries to submit their emissions targets to the UNFCCC by the end of January. The 55 countries represent 78% of all global emissions from energy use. Among industrialized countries, the commitments come from Australia, Canada, Croatia, the European Union and its member states, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the United States. Commitments also came from 23 developing countries, including such major emitters as Brazil, China, India, the Republic of Korea, and South Africa.

However, it’s worth noting that many of the commitments, particularly those of the developed countries, hinge on similar commitments being made by other countries. They also use varying base years for comparison. In the case of the United States, the commitment is to reduce GHG emissions “in the range of 17%” below 2005 levels, “in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation.” The UNFCCC notes that the next round of formal climate negotiations is scheduled for Bonn, Germany, at the end of May, although several countries have indicated their wish to see a quick return to the negotiations with more meetings than the scheduled sessions.

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