The IPCC latest report is out

IPCC report 2013You must have heard or read about it : Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published the first part of its latest report. The results are even more frightening than in 2007 and stress how urgent action is needed.

Now the IPCC is between 95 percent sure that most of the warming is human made. To me that doesn’t make much difference since the previous report stated that it was 90 percent sure. That was already enough to urge us toward action.

By the end of the century global temperatures could rise by 4.8°C, compared to an agreed goal of 2°C of increase. This is still achievable but would require huge action quickly.

As the First Working group of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) reported, the minimum increase of average global temperature could be of only 0.3°C by 2100. This is considered as unlikely.

Rising sea levels could reach over 80 centimeters by the end of the century. As usual, this is an average, in some places it could be much more than that.

But there is more than rising sea levels and increasing temperatures. As Inside Climate News reported :

For the first time, the IPCC specifies that the world needs to stick to a “carbon budget” and specifies the levels of future carbon emissions that are allowable in order to have a reasonable chance of staying within 2 degrees Celsius of warming in this century, the safe climate target.

In short, to have a two-in-three probability of not crossing the danger mark, the world is allowed to burn, at most, 1,000 gigatons of carbon in total since the Industrial Revolution, and countries have already used up more than half that budget.

This brings us back to the whole idea of unburnable carbon and carbon budget. Renew Economy has a long and detailed series of explanations on that very topic.

Given that the world has already emitted  531GT by 2011, that means half the budget has already been consumed. But if other factors are taken into account, such as change in land use and methane emissions, the budget may be as low as 800GT.

(…) That means that well over 2/3 of the budget has already been consumed, and leaves only a maximum 270GT to be emitted. Given that the known fossil fuel reserves amount to 2,795GT, that means less than 10 per cent of the world’s oil, coal and gas reserves can be safely exploited.

I guess than knowing this, a global carbon tax high enough to :

1. cut fossil fuel consumption massively ;

2. boost energy efficiency significantly ;

3. make low carbon technologies even more appealing

is necessary as soon as possible… as well as other things I have detailed in a previous post. More than ever, it is time to act, big and fast…

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