Climate change is occurring much faster than predicted by the scientific fraternity, and will wreak havoc unless action is taken on a global scale, a new report has warned.
The report suggests that 'extreme weather events' like the hot summer of 2003, when heart stress and poor air quality claimed about 35,000 extra lives across southern Europe, will happen more frequently.
It further states that violent cyclones will hit Britain and the North Sea area more often, and that the predicted rise in sea level will double to more than a metre, putting vast coastal areas at risk from flooding.
Through this report, the organisation has urged the European Union to set en example for the rest of the world by agreeing a package of challenging targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and for keeping any increase in global temperatures below 2C.
According to WWF, a 2007 report that was based on a study of global warming by 4,000 scientists from more than 150 countries is now out of date.
The agency insists that it has updated all the scientific data, which suggest that global warming is accelerating far beyond the earlier forecasts.
It even points out that the first 'tipping point' may have already been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of the previous predictions, and may be gone completely within five years, something that hasn't occurred for a million years.
"Climate change is a major challenge to the future of mankind and the environment, and this sobering overview highlights just how critical it is that EU environment ministers, who are meeting today to discuss EU legislation to tackle climate change, commit to a strong climate and energy package, in order to ensure a low carbon future," the Telegraph quoted WWF-UK's Head of Climate Change, Dr. Keith Allott, as saying.
"If the European Union wants to be seen as leader at UN talks in Copenhagen next year, and to help secure a strong global deal to tackle climate change after 2012, then it must stop shirking its responsibilities and commit to real emissions cuts within Europe," Dr. Allott added.
Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the newly elected Vice Chair of the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), endorsed the WWF report.
"It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it's vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious," van Ypersele said.