Downturn reduces greenhouse emissions

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Worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases will be nine percent lower than they would have been in 2012 without the global economic downturn, British researchers said Friday.

However, the reduction would only delay by 21 months a global two-degree Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) rise above pre-industrial levels, if "business as usual" emissions resume after the crisis, said the Economic and Social Research Council's centre for climate change economics and policy.

Many scientists believe that if temperatures warm by more than two degrees Celsius, the impacts of climate change will be much more severe.

"Our results show that although the downturn is likely to cause a measurable decrease in global emissions, it will only delay temporarily the relentless rise in emissions that we have seen over the past few decades," said the report's co-author Professor Andy Gouldson of the University of Leeds.

"If we return to 'business as usual' emissions after the economic crisis is over, the profound and severe risks of climate change impacts will continue to grow.

"So the global downturn does not remove the urgent need for a strong agreement to be reached at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December."

The researchers found that is the economic downturn worsened into a depression as bad as that of the 1930s, emissions would be 23 percent lower than predicted for 2012.

However, that would only delay by five years the moment when the two degrees Celsius rise is reached.

The December 7-18 Copenhagen talks are aimed at achieving a global deal to slash greenhouse gas emissions and ease the impact of climate change before the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto Protocol.