We highlight the fact that taking action now is vital to prevent dangerous climate change. An increase of global temperature over 2°C is predicted to cause catastrophic climate impacts.
The latest report on the science of climate change from
theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in
Paris,concluded that continuing polluting business-as-usual
practices islikely to increase global average temperatures between
1.1°C and 6.4° Cabove 1980-1999 levels by 2095, leading to more
droughts, heatwaves,floods and stronger hurricanes, rapid melting
of ice-sheets and rapidlyrising sea levels.
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Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner who was atthe
meeting in Paris said, "The good news is our understanding of
theclimate system and our impact on it has improved immensely. The
badnews is that the more we know, the more precarious the future
looks.There's a clear message to Governments here, and the window
for actionis narrowing fast. If the last IPCC report was a wake up
call, this oneis a screaming siren."
The main findings of the IPCC report are summarised below.
Further reports will follow this year on at the probableimpacts of
climate change, options for adapting to those impacts, andpossible
routes to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
What's a few degrees?
While temperature increases of a few degrees might not sound
sodramatic it will have dramatic effects on our climate. That's why
isvital that action is taken now to reduce emissions and keep
warmingbelow 2°C to prevent catastrophic climate impacts.
Fortunately there is a blueprint for how to do this - the
energy(r)evolution. It shows how to halve global CO2 emissions by
2050, usingexisting technology and still providing affordable
energy and economicgrowth. In short - a revolution in energy policy
and an evolution inhow we use energy.
We can have reliable renewable energy, and use energy more
smartly toachieve the cuts in carbon emissions required to prevent
dangerousclimate change. Crucially this can be done while phasing
out damagingand dangerous coal and nuclear energy.
As the science of climate change becomes ever more clear and
alarming,public concern is increasing rapidly. One of the few
things notmatching the warning is the scale of real action from
governments toreduce emissions. If this stark warning goes unheeded
futuregenerations, enduring a warmer world of our own making, will
not lookkindly on lack of action at the start of the 21st
Summary of major findings of the IPCC
- Human impact on climate has now been attributed with a
90percent confidence, higher than in earlier assessments, and has
beenfound in all world regions.
- An increase in thetheoretical climate 'sensitivity', i.e., how
the climate will respondto a doubling of greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere compared topre-industrial levels. Previously, the best
estimate for warming inrelation to GHG doubling was 2.5 degrees
centigrade, and now that hasincreased to 3 degrees centigrade.
- Broad confirmation that therange of warming expected by 2100 if
emissions are not reduced is 1.1°Cand 6.4°C by 2095 over 1980-1999
- The intensity oftropical storms is likely to increase, a
finding that was not possiblein the Third Assessment Report (TAR).
Observed increases in intensityare highly correlated with increased
sea surface temperature.
- TheAntarctic and Greenland ice sheets contributed a substantial
amount(around 15 percent) to the observed increase in sea level
over the1993-2003 period. However, the models say that the
Antarctic ice sheetshould in fact be growing, due to increased
precipitation, meaning thatas yet the models cannot explain the
increase in the discharge of iceespecially from Antarctica, and
don't fully account for the rapidmelting and discharge of ice from
Greenland. So, while it's known thatsea-level rise will probably be
greater, it is still difficult toquantify precisely by how
- A warming of 1.9 to 4.6°C abovepre-industrial levels, (well
within the range expected for the 21stcentury) would lead to the
virtual elimination of the Greenland Icesheet, if that warming is
sustained for thousand years or more. Thatwould raise sea level by
between 6 and 7 metres. The report also foundthat future
temperatures projected over Greenland are comparable tothose from a
warm period 125, 000 years ago, when sea levels were 4-6metres
higher than they are today.
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