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Global warming: UN climate report warns on emissions, but some signs of progress

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Brian Snyder/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A multiple-exposure photograph shows a wind turbine turning in front of a fossil fuel power plant in Charlestown, Mass. The US produced the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions in 2009-11 of any three-year period since the mid-1990s.

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In a hotly anticipated UN climate report issued Friday, the world's leading climate scientists again warned of the rising levels of greenhouse gases being pumped into Earth's atmosphere and fueling global warming.

Behind those rising emissions are two giant energy pumps: the developed world's economic engine and the developing world's economic engine.

The developing world's engine is revving at high speed. Hundreds of millions of people are moving into the middle class, replacing bikes with cars, buying dishwashers and refrigerators, and adopting lifestyles that demand more energy. That growth is happening so fast that climate scientists once again have sounded the alarm.

"Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system," the UN's climate panel said in a preliminary report released Friday. "Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions." The report added that it is "extremely likely" that human activity is a primary driver of global warming – namely in the form of carbon-based fuels that release heat-trapping gases.

 
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