Same situation, different year. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have published the final part of their fifth assessment Report (AR5) and the findings are quite scary.
The previous full IPCC report was published back to 2007 and was already urging for quick action to avoid serious problems. Despite the urgency of the situation, our elected representatives didn’t act as much or as quickly as they should have. (Granted, we elected them so we are also responsible for that).
As a result, as I write these lines in November 2014, action on climate change is more urgent than ever.
Here is a quote from their synthesis report that sums up quite everything :
“Limiting total human-induced warming to less than 2°C relative to the period 1861-1880 with a probability of >66% would require cumulative CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic sources since 1870 to remain below about 2900 GtCO2. About 1900 GtCO2 had already been emitted by 2011.”
As Dr Jeff Masters noted on Weather Underground :
Our current business-as-usual emissions path (RCP 8.5) is more likely than not to cause 4°C (7°F) warming by 2100. That amount of warming is expected to result in “substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases (high confidence). “
Given the effects of current climate change, I guess these temperatures would sure mean death for our civilization as it is…
Business Green explains what this report means :
It has been termed as “the most important document on climate change”, combining the three studies from the IPCC’s AR5 assessment that have been produced during the past 13 months.
It will also be the final document United Nations countries will use to formulate their pledges to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in a global deal on climate change, due to be signed in Paris next year.
The more we wait, the bigger the challenge will be. Now the IPCC is simply demanding our civilization to become globally carbon neutral by the end of the century. Global emissions need to stop increasing and start decreasing in the very next few years (before 2020).
Given the increase of our emissons for the past decades, making them peak and start decreasing will need significant changes fast…
But despite all the scary messages and information, there is hope as action is possible and affordable. Here are some quotes from The Guardian, as excellent as always :
Tackling climate change need only trim economic growth rates by a tiny fraction, the IPCC states, and may actually improve growth by providing other benefits, such as cutting health-damaging air pollution.
(…) The statement that carbon emissions must fall to zero was “gamechanging”, according to Kaisa Kosonen, from Greenpeace. “We can still limit warming to 2C, or even 1.5C or less even, [but] we need to phase out emissions,” she said.
Unlike CCS, which is yet to be proven commercially, she said renewable energy was falling rapidly in cost.
Sam Smith, from WWF, said: “The big change in this report is that it shows fighting climate change is not going to cripple economies and that it is essential to bringing people out of poverty. What is needed now is concerted political action.” The rapid response of politicians to the recent global financial crisis showed, according to Smith, that “they could act quickly and at scale if they are sufficiently motivated”.
Last but not least, climate change action is increasingly being taken seriously by large cities and Big Business with the rise of corporate responsibility. This will be the topic of future articles, so stay tuned and keep hope !