by Rosalind Adams
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A leading German climate change scientist has struck a downbeat note on any substantive progress in the global efforts to rein in climate change in the near future.
Speaking to Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview, Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said he has little expectations for substantive progress happening within the current UN climate change regime, or the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC), until the 2015 conference in Paris, when member states have committed to making a new agreement on carbon reduction.
Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, was at UN Headquarters in New York to attend a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on climate change.
He said there will be both diplomatic and logistical problems if member states fail to create a robust framework in the 2015 climate change conference.
Diplomats and heads of state felt close to a global compact in 2009 at the Copenhagen climate change conference, but in the end, "it fell to pieces," said Schellnhuber, adding that it was clear that leaders were putting their national constituencies ahead of global interests.
"It's the fate of the world that is at stake and people are playing these games," he said. "I'm deeply concerned that without these additional pushes, we may be just filibustering about the climate."
Schellnhuber, who is also the chief advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate change, noted the possible threats that climate change may pose. "It's not just the melting Arctic sea that will create different routes for ships, it is simply the fear of a destabilized developing world. Terrorism is seeping across all borders and the same can be true if there is environmental destruction, people migrating in millions."
Schellnhuber said that he hopes that bringing attention to the consequences of a world without robust climate policies will build a coalition of support toward creating a new framework for carbon reduction in 2015, as agreed to at the Durban Climate Change Conference in 2011.
"We need now pushes and forces and motivations and drivers from all corners," he said.
Schellnhuber underscored the critical importance of the issue. "All of our investment into development may be at stake. Because before people thought it was either development or climate protection, and now they feel there is no development in a world that slips into climate chaos."
"In arid countries where you have very little precipitation trends and you have even less in the future and you simply cannot make a living anymore," he said.
A recent study commissioned by the World Bank, on which Schellnhuber was the lead author, outlined the severe global consequences if aggressive climate change policies are not adopted in a timely manner.
If the current UNFCCC pledges to reduce carbon emissions remain in place, rather than adopting more aggressive policies, the world could warm 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, having severe effects, including rising sea levels, droughts, flooding and severe weather events.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim "was completely convinced this is an alarm which we must not ignore anymore," said Schellnhuber. "It needs to shock you into action."
Meanwhile, Schellnhuber said that it is not just the heads of state and government that must develop policies to handle the effects of climate change, but that individuals can also contribute by relying more on renewable energy sources.
For example, "solar energy has become so cheap, if you put it on your roof you can produce your own electricity much cheaper than taking it form the grid," he said. "And this will become self- evident."