GLOBAL WARMING IMPACTS HIT POOREST, THE HARDEST AND WILL INCREASE IN SCOPE AND SEVERITY
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s most credible body on the science and impacts of global warming, released its latest findings today indicating that it is likely climate change will cause greater impacts and that they will be of increasing severity. The findings detailed in "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" include: the mass extinction of species; billions of people facing water scarcity; increased drought; sea level rises; storm surges; river flooding and increasing hunger in the poorest parts of the world due to reduced food production capacity. (1)
"It is very clear that humans are changing the face of the planet as we know it and we must take immediate steps to curtail the most significant risks to people and ecosystems throughout the world," said John Coequyt, Greenpeace USA energy policy analyst in Brussels at the meeting.
In its February 2007 report "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis," the IPCC expressed a greater than 90% certainty that most of the observed warming over the past half-century is caused by human activities. The latest report adds more detail, documenting the effect that rising temperatures have already had on people and ecosystems and what the future holds under different scenarios.
"We can actually make a difference if we reduce global warming pollution to a level that keeps the global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius and thereby avoid the most catastrophic impacts," said Coequyt. "However, this will require substantive action by on the part of Congress in the United States."
Greenpeace is calling for global emissions to peak by 2020 and fall rapidly thereafter ensuring at least a 50 percent reduction from 1990 levels by the year 2050 globally, and eliminate fossil fuel emissions before the end of the 21st century. This platform is outlined in its 'Global Energy Scenario' which is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press/reports/energy-r-evolution-a-bluepr
Governments must begin negotiations towards these targets at the UNFCCC Ministerial Climate Summit in Bali at the end of November this year and agree to conclude these negotiations by the end of 2009 at the latest to ensure that the Kyoto Protocol can continue.
(1) Key findings of the report indicate that:
*It is likely that climate change will induce the mass extinction of species within 60-70 years and that the scale of risk is larger than most of the five major extinction events that have occurred in the earth's history;
* Over the next decades the number of people at risk of water scarcity is likely to rise from tens of millions to billions. Steadily decreasing water availability is projected for India and other parts of South Asia and Africa and while the poorest parts of the world will be hit the hardest, countries such as Australia and nations in Southern Europe are also on the front line.
* Food production capacity will be significantly reduced in the poorest parts of the world. , Within a few decades, it is likely that wheat, maize and rice production will significantly decline in India and China.
* Increased drought and water scarcity are likely to lead to growing problems of hunger and human dislocation in Africa in coming decades.
* The loss of glaciers in Asia, Latin America and Europe are set to cause major water supply problems for a large fraction of the world's population, as well as a massive increase in glacial lake outburst floods and other risks for those living in the glaciated mountains.
* A tremendous number of people will be at risk due to sea level rise, storm surge and river flooding in the Asian Megadeltas such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra (Bangladesh) and the Zhujiang (Pearl River).
* Warming of more than another degree could commit the world to multi-meter sea level rise over several centuries from the partial or total loss of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. Huge coastal dislocation would result and could be triggered by emissions made in the next several decades.
VVPR info: Contact: Jane Kochersperger, (202) 319-2493; (202) 680-3798, cell Photos: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/media/climate/