The IPCC Report – Where Now?

Oct 7th, 2013 | By | Category: Advocacy, Books, Development and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Environment, Government Policies, Information and Communication, International Agencies, News, Publication, Vulnerability

wg1coverCNN: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now published the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report, AR5. It says humanity is largely responsible for the recent warming of the Earth, it re-tells the Panel’s familiar story of rising temperatures and sea levels, of melting glaciers and ice sheets. Described by some as “conservative” and “telling us what we know already”, it’s also won some plaudits. These are some – not all unalloyed.

Dr Saleemul Huq is senior fellow in the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and coordinating lead author in Working Group II of the IPCC.

“”The IPCC has confirmed what many millions of people in the developing world are well aware of, namely that the weather patterns have already changed for the worse. People in richer countries are vulnerable too, as recent floods, droughts and storms in Europe, North America and Australia have shown, but because of political inertia and powerful vested interests that have dominated media narratives for decades, they are less aware of the links between these impacts and their carbon emissions. Climate change affects us all and we must tackle it together. The time has come for global solidarity. This would enable the individual polluter (be they in a rich country or poor country) to recognise his or her personal responsibility and to try to connect with the victims of their pollution.  Climate change ignores borders, but so do friendship and solidarity. It is time for national interests to give way to the global good. I hope the strong message from IPCC will galvanise actions by politicians and publics around the world.”

Dr Geoff Jenkins is the former head of climate change prediction at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, part of the UK Met Office.

“Attention has already been focussed on the ‘attribution statement’, in other words how far we can claim that warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity. There has been been much new research into attributing changes, not just at the surface but within the oceans, through the depth of the atmosphere, and in other parts of the climate system. This has allowed the IPCC to increase its confidence since [its last report in 2007] AR4 that humans bear most of the responsibility, and it now says it is extremely likely (above 95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. I was surprised that the Summary for Policymakers didn’t spend more time talking about the recent pause in warming; this has given rise to a lot of media commentary and genuine scientific discussion (including three excellent position papers on the Met Office website). Given its target audience – policymakers – this topic should have been covered in more detail in the report.

“The sensitivity of the climate system to atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed slightly since AR4, with the top of the range of uncertainty staying at 4.5C, but the lower bound dropping from 2C to 1.5C. The 1.5 – 4.5 range is identical to that in the very first IPCC report in 1990, demonstrating the robustness of the global projections from then.

“Comparing predictions of global and local temperature rise with those in AR4 is made difficult by the introduction of completely new scenarios with which to drive the models. However, the report says that when these differences are taken into account, AR4 and AR5 show similar changes, both in rate and geographical pattern.”

Paulo Artaxo is professor of environmental physics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He served on working groups on both the previous and present IPCC Assessment Reports.

“What I call the good news is that the predictions made in the last assessment report are – in general terms – broadly in line with what we record in the present report.  Our basic forecasts for temperature rise have been proved to be correct. There is a maturity and increasing sophistication in our processes. The science is very, very clear – the urgency to cut emissions is much stronger than when the last report was being formulated. Both the IPCC and our own climate model (the Brazilian Earth System model) indicate the overall temperature increase by 2100 in Brazil will exceed the forecast average rise in global temperatures. The northeast of Brazil will see the largest increase in temperatures and the biggest decrease in precipitation – of about 30%. Meanwhile precipitation could increase by a similar amount in the south and southeast. All this is likely to have a big impact on Brazil as a major agricultural producer http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2013/09/brazil-faces-drop-in-crops/. We are already observing changes in crop yields due to changing temperature and rainfall patterns, particularly in relation to soybean, coffee and sugar cane production. For example, because of an average 1°C rise in temperatures in the São Paulo region in recent years, coffee has become increasingly hard to grow and the crop has declined. The main message of this report is that the global political system has to develop a way to limit emissions. There is a serious lack of governance and this blocks international agreements. The report must feed into the political system – and be urgently acted on.”

Quamrul Chowdhury is a lead climate negotiator for the Least Developed Countries at the talks held by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The first part of AR 5 has just reconfirmed what the Least Developed Countries have been arguing at the UN climate negotiations for the last couple of years. Global carbon emissions need to be cut deeply and urgently. This IPCC report asks all of us to act fast, act in a more robust way, act together, act all over the world. The developed countries must take the lead – cut back their carbon emissions quickly and deeply, support concrete adaptation in the developing countries, specifically in the LDCs, SIDS [small island developing states] and African countries affected by drought, flooding and desertification. I earnestly hope this report will help raise the political will of the developed countries to strike a deal in Warsaw at [the next UNFCCC talks in November] so that in Paris [at the climate  talks] in 2015 the world can reach a new legally binding, fair and ambitious agreement to solve the global climate crisis.”

Nick Robins is head of the Climate Partnership at HSBC.

“The IPCC report provides firmer foundations for policy action. For the world’s capital markets, climate change is an issue of strategic risk management – and by continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are putting the weather on steroids. We know that temperatures continue to warm and that impacts are fully in line with what we would expect from a warming world, including rising sea levels and melting glaciers. And this is affecting economies today. Our research shows that India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil are the G-20 nations that are most vulnerable to climate risks. We expect the succession of IPCC reports into 2014 to provide a renewed impetus to policy and business action through to the finalization of negotiations in December 2015.”

Mark Way heads re-insurer Swiss Re’s  sustainability work in the Americas.

“When a body like the IPCC concludes that with 95% certainty mankind is causing climate change we would be foolish not to listen. And yet we are still not listening closely enough. The transition to a low carbon economy and a more climate-resilient society cannot be thought of as options, they are necessities. Swiss Re is committed to playing its role in tackling climate change, and we have just reinforced this by announcing we will join an initiative that pledges companies to source 100% of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.”

Mindy Lubber is president of Ceres, a US-based organisation which presses for greater sustainability and environmental awareness in the business sector:

“The IPCC report’s conclusion is unequivocal – climate change is happening and it’s disrupting all aspects of the global economy, including supply chains, commodity markets and the entire insurance industry. Business momentum is growing to innovate new strategies and products to manage climate risks and opportunities. But scaling these efforts to levels that will slow warming trends will require stronger carbon-reducing policies globally.” –

Source: Climate News Network

Human influence on climate clear, IPCC report says

STOCKHOLM, 27 September – Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident
in most regions of the globe, a new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) concludes.

It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming
since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better
observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate
models.

Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been
observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of
the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding
decade since 1850, reports the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I
assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by
member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent
evidence. Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the
amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations
of greenhouse gases have increased,” said Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Thomas Stocker, the other Co-Chair of Working Group I said: “Continued emissions of greenhouse
gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting
climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to
exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered, and likely to exceed
2°C for the two high scenarios,” said Co-Chair Thomas Stocker. “Heat waves are very likely to occur
more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions
receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions,” he added.

Projections of climate change are based on a new set of four scenarios of future greenhouse gas
concentrations and aerosols, spanning a wide range of possible futures. The Working Group I report
assessed global and regional-scale climate change for the early, mid-, and later 21st century.

“As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to
rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said Co-Chair Qin Dahe.
The report finds with high confidence that ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored
in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and
2010.

Co-Chair Thomas Stocker concluded: “As a result of our past, present and expected future
emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries
even if emissions of CO2 stop.”

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: “This Working Group I Summary for Policymakers
provides important insights into the scientific basis of climate change. It provides a firm foundation
for considerations of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and ways to
meet the challenge of climate change.” These are among the aspects assessed in the contributions
of Working Group II and Working Group III to be released in March and April 2014. The IPCC Fifth
Assessment Report cycle concludes with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014.

“I would like to thank the Co-Chairs of Working Group I and the hundreds of scientists and experts
who served as authors and review editors for producing a comprehensive and scientifically robust
summary. I also express my thanks to the more than one thousand expert reviewers worldwide for
contributing their expertise in preparation of this assessment,” said IPCC Chair Pachauri.

The Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment
Report (WGI AR5) is available at www.climatechange2013.org or www.ipcc.ch.

Key Findings

See separate Fact Sheet of Headline Statements from the WGI AR5 Summary for Policymakers,
available at www.climatechange2013.org.

Link: http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ar5/press_release_ar5_wgi_en.pdf

 

Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).

The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel  emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted  anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.

Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total  radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the
atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following  large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence).

Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth’s energy budget together  provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.

Policy Makers: http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ar5/ar5_wg1_headlines.pdf

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