China and US criticise climate report

China and the United States are aiming to water down a key climate change report being discussed in Thailand this week.

China and the United States are aiming to water down a key climate change report being discussed in Thailand this week.

The countries are arguing that action to reduce greenhouse gases will be more costly and time consuming than scientists claim.

According to documents reviewed by The Associated Press, the comments submitted by the two governments ahead of this week's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting also downplay the potential benefits of reducing emissions and take issue at the report's conclusion that quick action could stabilise greenhouse gas levels.

The comments are a precursor to what delegates expect will be a fight for much of the week to preserve the key conclusions in the draft IPCC report, which says greenhouse gas emissions can be cut below current levels if the world shifts away from fuels like coal, invests in energy efficiency and reforms the agriculture sector.

A spokeswoman for the US delegation declined to discuss the American position until the draft report was finalised on Friday.

Two previous IPCC reports this year painted a dire picture of a future in which unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as six degrees C (11 degrees F) by 2100.

Even a two degree C (3.6 degree F) rise could subject up to two billion people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20% to 30% of the world's species, the IPCC said.

Scientists have said that global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by between 140 million and one billion by contributing to widespread droughts and flooding.

Diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and dengue fever could spread as temperatures rise and weather becomes increasing erratic, affecting the poorest of the world's poor.

The third report stresses that the world must quickly embrace a basket of technological options - already available and being developed - to keep the temperature rise to two degrees C.

But the United States wants to take a longer-term approach with mitigation measures, a position that will likely anger island nations and other developing countries already feeling the effects of climate change.

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