Diplomat: Averting climate change means leaving fossil fuels in ground

Sept. 23, 2013 at 5:50 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Governments must leave fossil fuel reserves in the ground unburned and unexploited to really protect the planet, a senior diplomat from Ireland said Monday.

Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and U.N. high commissioner for human rights, is leading a new international push that has a goal of breaking the climate talks stalemate and countering climate change skeptics, The Guardian reported.

Robinson said world governments must get used to the idea of leaving fossil fuels alone so emissions don't threaten the climate in advance of the report to be unveiled Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"There is a global limit on a safe level of emissions," Robinson told The Guardian. "That means major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That has huge implications for economic and social development."

Averting runaway emissions from threatening the planet, she said, would mean creating incentives for countries to consider alternative energy resources, carbon pricing to penalize fossil fuel use and political buy-in from global leaders.

Turning away from fossil fuels also must be equitable among all countries, developed and developing, Robinson told The Guardian.

"It must be managed in a fair way," she said. "Developing countries must not bear all the burden. We need a robust and fair climate change agreement."

Robinson called for strong stances by world political leaders on tackling global warming, which she said was necessary to counter climate skeptics.

"The best way to counter the skeptics is to have strong political leadership," she said. "They [the skeptics] are not based in reality."

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