Greenpeace analysis of the IPCC Climate Change confirmed – now take action before it’s too late

Press release - 2 February, 2007
Greenpeace challenged Governments to step up to the plate and take immediate action, after the strongest warnings yet from the international scientific community on the threat of dangerous climate change unless greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced.

The latest report on the science of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Paris, concludes that continuing business-as-usual practices is likely to increase global average temperatures between 1.1°C and 6.4° C above 1980-1999 levels by 2095, leading to more droughts, heatwaves, floods and stronger hurricanes, rapid melting of ice-sheets and rapidly rising sea levels.

"The good news is our understanding of the climate system and our impact on it has improved immensely. The bad news is that the more we know, the more precarious the future looks. There's a clear message to Governments here, and the window for action is narrowing fast. If the last IPCC report was a wake up call, this one is a screaming siren," said Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace International Climate & Energy Campaigner in Paris.

Some of the major findings include:

  • Human impact on climate has now been attributed with a 90 percent confidence, higher than in earlier assessments, and has been found in all world regions.
  • An increase in the theoretical climate 'sensitivity', i.e., how the climate will respond to a doubling of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere compared to pre-industrial levels. Previously, the best estimate for warming in relation to GHG doubling was 2.5 degrees centigrade, and now that has increased to 3 degrees centigrade.
  • Broad confirmation that the range of warming expected by 2100 if emissions are not reduced is 1.1°C and 6.4°C by 2095 over 1980-1999 levels (1).
  • The intensity of tropical storms is likely to increase, a finding that was not possible in the Third Assessment Report (TAR). Observed increases in intensity are highly correlated with increased sea surface temperature.
  • The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets contributed a substantial amount (around 15 percent) to the observed increase in sea level over the 1993-2003 period. However, the models say that the Antarctic ice sheet should in fact be growing, due to increased precipitation, meaning that as yet the models cannot explain the increase in the discharge of ice especially from Antarctica, and don't fully account for the rapid melting and discharge of ice from Greenland. So, while it's known that sea-level rise will probably be greater, it is still difficult to quantify precisely by how much.
  • A warming of 1.9 to 4.6°C above pre-industrial levels, (well within the range expected for the 21st century) would lead to the virtual elimination of the Greenland Ice sheet, if that warming is sustained for thousand years or more. That would raise sea level by between 6 and 7 metres. The report also found that future temperatures projected over Greenland are comparable to those from a warm period 125, 000 years ago, when sea levels were 4-6 metres higher than they are today.

"We need to keep global mean temperature increase to below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. To do this, global emissions must peak before 2020 and then come down rapidly," added Tunmore.

Last week Greenpeace unveiled a new report, the Energy [R]evolution scenario, a detailed blueprint for how the world can provide the energy it is projected to need until 2050 whilst achieving a 50 per cent cut in global CO2 emissions and at the same time allowing for increased population and economic growth

Other contacts: Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace International, +44 77969 474 51 Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications, +44 7801 212 960

VVPR info: Climate impact videos available from +31 6 29 00 11 35

Notes: 1. This range is similar to that found in the IPCC Third Assessment for the same scenarios of 1.4°C to 5.6°C by 2100 above 1990 levels. However, it cannot be compared directly with the new range as the methods used are different and the time period is slightly different. The new range covers temperature rise for the decade from 2090-2099 over the average levels in the period from 1980-1999), whereas the TAR compared temperature rise in 2100 compared with 1990 levels.

Exp. contact date: 2007-02-04 00:00:00