Act, Don't Despair, on Climate Change ; LEADING ARTICLE

Article excerpt

It is sometimes difficult to walk the tightrope of climate change. Focusing on the dire scientific assessments of what could happen in an overheated world can send people tumbling into a pit of despair. Yet making light of the problems caused by rising greenhouse gases can equally generate a false sense of security.

The final part of the fourth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was released yesterday, makes it clear that there is hope. If governments act - and that is a big "if" - it will be possible to curb man-made emissions of greenhouse gases over the coming decades, and so avert the worst predictions of climate scientists.

The former US vice-president and environmental campaigner Al Gore says that, in making his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, it was important at the end of all the pessimism to give people hope. He showed in a simple graphic how the world could be gradually weaned off its addiction to fossil fuels with a series of measures that, collectively, could lead to a dramatic curb on emissions of carbon dioxide.

Individually, each measure - such as renewable energy or improvements in efficiency - is not enough on its own to lower carbon emissions to the point where the climate can be sta-bilised. …