A still they come -- the warnings that global warming is taking place and that consequential climate change is inevitable unless precautionary measures are taken, and soon. The latest warning comes from the International Energy Agency, whose chief economist Fatih Birol cannot be dismissed as one of the so-called incompetent academics who got it all wrong at the 2009 Copenhagen conference. Mr Birol says that carbon emissions increased last year to a point that threatens efforts to keep global warming within safe limits. His concern has been endorsed by Professor Lord Stern whose report on the economics of climate change remains as valid as when it first appeared five years ago; he says that the latest figures show a return to business as usual and the danger of a 50 per cent chance of a rise in global average temperatures of 4C by 2100.
The next UN Climate Change conference takes place at Durban, South Africa, in December and these latest warnings should galvanize into action those responsible for negotiating a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Treaty which expires next year. Assumptions that the world recession would reduce carbon emissions have proved to be wrong and Germany's decision to abandon its nuclear power programme is a serious signal in the wrong direction. Britain continues to lead the way in cutting carbon emissions and its example needs to be widely followed.