Saturday, November 17, 2007

IPCC Draft Report 16/11/2007: "climate change is unequivocal"

The IPCC released its summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report on the 16th November 2007.

The report can be downloaded below:

Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report [Large PDF]

The summary has all the facts and figures.

The BBC do a good job of summarising the key points although those who have been following the climate change debate will find nothing new or surprising.

UN calls for joint climate effort [BBC]
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says a new report on climate change has set the stage for a real breakthrough in tackling the issue.

Launching the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, he said it made clear that real and affordable ways to deal with the problem exist.

He called for action at next month's climate change conference in Bali.

The IPCC report states that climate change is "unequivocal" and may bring "abrupt and irreversible" impacts.

After a week of arduous talks in Valencia, Spain, the UN panel of scientists agreed the document which says the planet is being driven toward a warmer age at a quickening pace by human activity.

The scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than they were a decade ago, prompting the panel's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, to highlight the need to deal with impacts which are coming whether or not global emissions are curbed.

Even if levels of CO2 in the atmosphere stayed where they are now, he said, research showed sea levels would rise by between 0.4 and 1.4 metres simply because water expands as it warms.

Unavoidable effects

"This is a very important finding, likely to bring major changes to coastlines and inundating low-lying areas, with a great effect in river deltas and low-lying islands.

"If you add to this the melting of some of the ice bodies on Earth, this gives a picture of the kinds of issue we are likely to face," he said after the landmark report was published.

The report was officially unveiled by UN chief Ban Ki-moon in Valencia.

As he began Mr Ban congratulated the IPCC and the thousands of scientists involved in its work on their recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"I come to you humbled after seeing some of the most precious treasures of our planet threatened by humanity's own hand," said the UN chief, who has just been on a fact-finding trip to Antarctica and South America.

"All humanity must assume responsibility for these treasures."

"Let us recognise that the effects of climate change affect us all, and that they have become so severe and so sweeping that only urgent global action will do. We are all in this together - we must work together," Mr Ban added.

Focus on Bali

Among the report's top-line conclusions are that climate change is "unequivocal", that humankind's emissions of greenhouse gases are more than 90% likely to be the main cause, and that impacts can be reduced at reasonable cost.

The synthesis summary finalised late on Friday warned that climate change may bring "abrupt and irreversible" impacts.

Such impacts could include the fast melting of glaciers and species extinctions.

"Approximately 20-30% of species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5C (relative to the 1980-1999 average)," the summary concludes.

Other potential impacts highlighted in the text include:

* between 75m and 250m people projected to have scarcer fresh water supplies than at present
* yields from rain-fed agriculture could be halved
* food security likely to be further compromised in Africa
* widespread impacts on coral reefs

The IPCC findings will feed into the next round of negotiations on the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol, which open in Bali on 3 December.

"Today the world's scientists have spoken clearly and with one voice," Mr Ban said in Valencia. "In Bali I expect the world's policymakers to do the same."


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