On the second of November, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, published its Synthesis Report. This summarises some five years work from two thousand scientists worldwide producing five thousand pages of evidence, with the report agreed after extensive negotiations with the world’s governments. This comes at a critical time for international action, with the next opportunity to agree world targets this time next year at the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Key points from the IPCC report are:
- Warming of the climate system is “unequivocal”, and the human influence on changing it is now “clear”.
- The period from 1983 to 2012 was almost certainly the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, the main greenhouse gases, are “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.
- Delaying remedial action will “substantially increase the challenges” to limit global warming to below two degrees relative to pre-industrial levels.
- If temperatures were to rise above four degrees, risks include “substantial species extinction” as well as global and regional food insecurity and shortages and, combined with sea level rise and an expended population, all of the obvious consequences that brings such as enforced migrations of whole populations.
- Emissions can be “substantially reduced” through worldwide changes in consumption patterns, and adoption of renewable technologies and energy-saving measures.
- Limiting the impacts of climate change will involve phasing out fossil fuels by 2100 and growing the use of renewables from its current share to 80% of the power sector by 2050.
Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, commented: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side and continuing inaction will be costly.” To investors, he added: “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and move to renewable energy.” Even the Pentagon is integrating the future consequences of climate change into its threat scenarios.
Many organisations, such as WWF and Greenpeace, have been warning of the urgent need for action for many years, but have been branded as extremists with some success by the conventional political parties, particularly those with strong vested interests and links to the industries that need to change.
Only one political party, the Green Party, has had the foresight to raise concerns about the reality and likely consequences of climate change since its inception in the mid seventies, and continues to bang on about it today as THE most important impact on the lives of ordinary working people as this century progresses. These predictions, once condemned as “barmy”, are now agreed at the highest international level, but there is much work to do to convince the conventional parties and the Westminster vested interests. Voting for Chris Jockel next May will be your small personal step towards safeguarding our common future.