The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released it’s Synthesis Report – the final part of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report : Climate Change 2007.
The Synthesis Report, which is the end-product of the most detailed and thorough assessment of global climate change ever undertaken, states that urgent action must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions otherwise climate change will intensify and have dramatic implications for both the natural world and human society.
The report is a product of intense week long discussions in Valencia, Spain, and provides a definitive conclusion to the climate change debate. It provides in one concise document the complete view of the climate change issue, based on the three IPCC Climate Change 2007 assessment reports published earlier this year. It draws on the knowledge of more than 1200 experts from all over the world.
The Report does not provide new results from the Working Group reports released earlier this year, however, it does provide new insights and an integrated view of the key issues.
It’s key messages are:
- Warming of the climate system is unequivocal and the role of human activities in the observed changes is now clearer than ever and much greater than any natural factors.
- In the absence of effective international agreement and further efforts to reduce emissions, GHG concentrations will continue to grow rapidly over the coming decades resulting in an increase of temperature of between 1.7 C and 4.0 C by 2100.
- Some risks are projected to be larger or likely to occur at lower increases in temperature than in the previous IPCC report.
- As warming proceeds, other climate changes and rising sea levels will adversely affect food and water resources, human health, infrastructure, and biodiversity and economies throughout the world.
- Climate change will increasingly threaten vulnerable systems, and increase the risk of abrupt or irreversible climate change, such as ice sheet melt and sea-level rise.
- A portfolio of adaptation and mitigation measures can reduce the overall risks associated with climate change. Whilst adaptation is the only means to respond to the impacts in the near term, there are limits to what adaptation can achieve in the long term if GHG are not curtailed. Mitigation is the only way to curb global climate change in the long term.
- In order to limit the adverse impact of climate change, including risks to vulnerable ecosystems and populations, global emissions need to peak soon and decline rapidly.
- It is economically and technically feasible to make significant reductions in emissions and the extent of mitigation efforts over the next two decades will largely determine how far risks are reduced, avoided or delayed.
- Postponing action to cut GHG will increase the costs of damage and will increase the costs of action.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (see previous news item : Antarctic Warming Continues At A Pace) attended the unveiling of the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in Valencia, Spain.
The report is a timely reminder of the grave importance of this issue and will be the main point of reference for governemnts ahead of the Bali talks next month where delegates will negotiate the development of a future regime to curb climate change beyond 2012.
Let’s face it the message really is pretty stark. Basically the world has to pull together to reduce GHG emissions as quickly as possible otherwise the consequences are likely to be severe and long lasting.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The report does state that “it is economically and technically feasible to make significant reductions in emissions, and the extent of mitigation efforts over the next two decades will largely determine how far risks are reduced, avoided or delayed”.
Now that’s a call to arms if ever I heard one. We have to rely largely on the world’s policy makers to make this happen. It is just possible that the mood for change which is gathering momentum today (partly as a result of the IPCC’s work) might be the spark which ignites people and markets into action.
In my view change will have to be largely market lead for substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to occur.
As the cost of sustainable technologies such as Solar Photovoltaics come down the financial benefits of adopting them will increase. As global awareness of the need to minimise waste and excess increases more social pressure will be exerted on those who do not behave in ways that will help to achieve this. As a result, it might just be possible that the process will snowball and our bacon may be saved!
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Further information on the IPCC and it’s work.
All of the IPCC's 2007 reports can be found at their website : http://www.ipcc.ch/ .