Many analysts expect record production of soybeans and corn
in in Argentina, one of the world's biggest food exporters,
thanks to good rains linked to the El Nino climate
phenomenon. But the extensive rainfall that began in August
also brought flooding that has forced some farmers to
abandon their sowing plans in the most affected regions.
Extreme weather from melting Arctic ice to Superstorm
Sandy shows snail-paced UN climate talks have to do more to cut
greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the UN weather agency and
its climate chief said.
"Climate change is taking place before our eyes," Michel
Jarraud, the head of the UN's weather agency, said of the
shrinking of ice floating on the Arctic Ocean to a record low
in September and other extremes.
And the first 10 months of 2012 were the ninth-warmest since
records began in the mid-19th century, with early months
cooled by a "La Nina" weather event in the Pacific, according
to a report by Jarraud's World Meteorological Organization
It also documented severe floods, droughts and heatwaves, in
what the UN expected to add to pressure for action at the
Nov. 26-Dec. 7 meeting among 200 nations in OPEC member
"The message here for this conference is very clear,"
Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change
Secretariat told Reuters of extremes and rising emissions.
"Governments need to hurry up and they need to be much more
Superstorm Sandy, which struck the U.S. east coast after
raging through the Caribbean, showed the United States "is
not exempt from the vulnerabilities of climate change and
that it also needs to do something," she said.
"We have had severe climate and weather events all over the
world and everyone is beginning to understand that is exactly
the future we are going to be looking about if they don't do
something about it," she said.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN panel of climate
scientists, said the costs of defences against higher sea
levels would rise towards 2100 and could amount to five to 10
percent of gross domestic product of low-lying nations.
And between 75 and 250 million people in Africa alone could
face greater stress on water supplies by 2020, hitting food
output. "This would further adversely affect food security
and exacerbate malnutrition," he said in a speech to the
He said polls showed U.S. public opinion had swung towards
wanting more action by President Barack Obama to slow global
warming after Sandy. "But whether that's a lasting change
it's too early to say," he told Reuters.
China, the United States, the European Union and India are
the top emitters. None have announced plans to limit
emissions at Doha despite wide pleas for action.
The UN meeting is struggling to overcome disputes about how
to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for cutting
emissions by developed nations that will otherwise expire at
the end of the year.
The European Union, Australia and a few other countries are
willing to extend but Japan, Russia and Canada have pulled
out, arguing that it is meaningless unless emerging nations
led by China and India also sign up.
The United States never ratified the 1997 Kyoto pact. Without
an extension of Kyoto, developing nations say they won't work
for a global deal applicable to all and meant to be agreed by
2015 and enter into force by 2020.
Also, coal-dependent Poland won backing as the host for next
year's UN climate talks after OPEC member Qatar, a double act
that dismayed environmentalists who say both oppose action to
drop fossil fuels and embrace greener energies.
"The prospect of Poland hosting the next global climate
conference is hugely concerning. At a time when action is
desperately needed, a host country should be firmly committed
to climate protection," Greenpeace's Jiri Jerabek said.