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E-mails heat Copenhagen climate change debate

The publication of controversial e-mails from some of the world's top climate scientists continued to muddle the debate over global warming.

The publication of controversial e-mails from some of the world's top climate scientists continued to muddle the debate over global warming, on the eve of a landmark summit of world leaders in Copenhagen. The messages, which show researchers at the University of East Anglia in the UK discussing the best ways to present data and scientific findings, have been invoked by climate change sceptics as evidence that the science of global warming was manipulated to bolster the case for strong action on cutting carbon emissions. Top officials and experts have rejected the claim.

The 1,000 e-mails, published two weeks ago, have dominated headlines and political debates in the two weeks leading up to the Copenhagen meeting, where world leaders will sit down in an effort to agree on the principles of a new climate change treaty, the first real changes since the Kyoto Protocol was drafted in 1998. The e-mails would reduce the chances that negotiators would come to an agreement, said Dr Mohammed Raouf, an environment expert at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai. "It has no scientific background," he said, but it "will make the situation worse".

Saudi Arabia used the e-mails last week to attack the global warming negotiations, saying it called into question the basis for taking action to reduce emissions and shift away from fossil fuels. The debate over climate science served as the backdrop for two studies showing that existing commitments to cut emissions would still lead to significant warming by the end of the century and that carbon dioxide causes more warming of the planet than originally thought.

@Email:cstanton@thenational.ae Temperature rises, b8

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