WARSAW - Ecologists raised the alarm Monday over global warming as environment ministers from more than 30 states met in Warsaw ahead of December's UN Climate summit focused on slashing greenhouse gases.
"We're ringing alarm bells -- the UN summit in Poznan must deliver a deal that will keep global warming below two degrees Celsius to the end of this century," Kaisa Kosonen from the global environmental group Greenpeace told reporters.
"Five years from now will be too late," she said as activists rang bells outside of the Warsaw hotel where ministers were gathered.
"We are currently on a pathway that implies temperatures could increase up to seven degrees (by the end of the century)," Kosonen said at an earlier press conference. "There is no more time for small steps."
Greenpeace and the Global Climate Initiative want the UN Poznan summit to agree on binding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions cuts of 25-40 percent -- from 1990 levels -- by 2020.
Emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 are believed to be the main culprits causing global warming.
European Union leaders are currently working on a package to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent -- compared to 1990 emission levels -- by 2020.
Environmentalists insist the consequences of failure to agree on terms to deeply limit carbon dioxide emissions could include widespread flooding from rising sea-levels as polar icecaps melt and increased morbidity from heatwaves, floods and droughts.
Switching to green energy technologies based on solar, wind, biomas and hydro power as well as increasing energy efficiency makes both environmental and economic sense, Kosonen said.
"The amount of money world governments have pooled now in the financial crisis is huge and we have no guarantee it isn't being wasted - it would take just a fraction to spearhead renewable energy technologies," she observed.
World leaders will meet in Poznan, western Poland for the United Nations Climate Change conference dubbed COP 14 from December 1-14.
But within the EU's current talks on limiting emissions, host country Poland is calling on Brussels to increase its carbon dioxide emissions cap for its coal-reliant energy utilities and a more gradual introduction of the auctioned emissions quotas in order to ease the cost burden.
Relying on coal-fired power plants for 96 percent of its electricity, Poland has asked the commission for a 2008-2012 carbon dioxide quota of 284.6 million tonnes per year. Brussels reduced it by 26.7 percent to 208.5 million tonnes.
Poland has also proposed a 20-percent carbon dioxide quota auction be introduced in 2013, rising by degrees each year to reach the full 100 percent by 2020.
The EU's original proposal foresees full CO2 emission quota auctions to begin in 2013.