Meeting calls for extreme measures on climate change

Posted by Kate Taylor

Climate change represents an immediate and highly serious threat to the health and security of people around the world, experts warned yesterday.

At a meeting hosted by the British Medical Journal in London, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne urged governments around the world to limit the impact of climate change for a "cleaner, healthier, safer future for us all."

Perhaps despairing of their chances of appealing to people's altruism, delegates warned that developed countries could suffer badly from international conflicts, mass migration and major prices rises for scarce resources such as fuel.

In a statement, scientists, environmental health experts and public figures at the meeting outline how they expect rising temperatures and weather instability to lead to water and food shortages, the spread of disease and threats to livelihood.

The statement warns that humanitarian crises will further burden military resources, and that the human and economic cost will be 'enormous'.

"It is not enough for politicians to deal with climate change as some abstract academic concept," says Professor Hugh Montgomery, director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance.

"The price of complacency will be paid in human lives and suffering, and all will be affected."

The group calls on the European Union to introduce some stiff measures. It wants countries to unconditionally agree a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically by 30 percent by 2020 and -  in the absence of carbon capture and storage - stop building new coal-fired power stations and phase out existing ones.