IPCC: Climate Change Threatens Irreversible and Dangerous Impacts, But Options Exist to Limit Its Effects

Climate change influenced by mankind threatens irreversible and dangerous impacts, but options exist to limit its effects to a manageable range, the Synthesis report, the final installment of the Fifth Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 2 November 2014, concludes.

The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months. The Synthesis Report comprises a summary for policymakers (40 pages long) and the full report (116 pages long).

1. Warming of Climate System Due to Greenhouse Gases Unequivocal

The report confirms “that climate change is being registered around the world and warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” It also expresses “with greater certainty than in previous assessments the fact that emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

2. Continued Emissions Will Cause Long-lasting Changes Felt Particularly by Least Developed Countries

“Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society and the natural world”, the report finds. It “makes a clear case that many risks constitute particular challenges for the least developed countries and vulnerable communities, given their limited ability to cope.” Yet “many of those most vulnerable to climate change have contributed and contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions.”

3. Adaptation Key to Decreasing Risks

“Adaptation plays a key role in decreasing risks” and “is so important because it can be integrated with the pursuit of development, and can help prepare for the risks to which mankind is already committed by past emissions and existing infrastructure”, the report says.

4. Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Core to Limiting Risks

Yet “substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions were at the core of limiting the risks of climate change” and would help to increase “the time available for adaptation to a particular level of climate change, potentially by several decades”, the report says.

5. Greater Than 66% Chance to Limit Global Warming to 2% – Ambitious Mitigation to Reduce Growth by 0.06%

“There are multiple mitigation pathways to achieve the substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades necessary to limit, with a greater than 66% chance, the warming to 2ºC – the goal set by governments. However, delaying additional mitigation to 2030 will substantially increase the technological, economic, social and institutional challenges associated with limiting the warming over the 21st century to below 2ºC relative to pre-industrial levels,” the report finds.

The Synthesis Report states that “that mitigation cost estimates vary, but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption – a proxy for economic growth – grows by 1.6 to 3 percent per year over the 21st century. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this by about 0.06 percentage points.” This does not include the direct in indirect benefits of reduced climate change.

6. IPCC Recommendation: 40 to 70% Emission Reduction by 2050, Zero Emissions by 2100

“To keep a good chance of staying below 2ºC, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100”, IPPC recommends.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Regarding the latest data on greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, please see here.

Source: IPCC, press release, website with access to full report

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