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Critics: Need for climate technology far greater

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Reuters / April 3, 2008

WASHINGTON - The UN climate change panel seriously underestimated the need for new technology in its reports on what it will take to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming, ecology and economy specialists said yesterday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based its global warming predictions issued last year on the assumption that technology would automatically improve, giving the world even greater energy efficiency, which would help lower climate-warming emissions over the coming decades.

But this automatic technology improvement has not happened so far this century, according to the authors of a commentary in the journal Nature.

"We argue that the size of this technology challenge has been seriously underestimated . . . diverting attention from policies that could directly stimulate technological innovation," they wrote.

While energy efficiency has continued to improve in the richest countries, it has declined in fast-developing nations like China as demand increases there, lead author Roger Pielke Jr. said in a phone interview.

"There are more than 2 billion people worldwide with no access to electricity," said Pielke, who is based at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado in Boulder. "And as they demand, rightly, access to energy, their carbon emissions have nowhere to go but up."

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