Monday, February 05, 2007
IPCC Report: The Evidence Stacks Up
On Friday the world's scientists lay down the most definitive report yet that a failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will bring devastating climate change within a few decades. Average temperatures could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise, with a rise of 4C most likely, according to the final report of the expert panel set up by the UN to study the problem. The forecast is higher than previous estimates, because scientists have discovered that Earth's land and oceans are becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide.
The report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is written by hundreds of scientists across the world and has been approved by every government. It leaves little room for doubt that human activity is to blame.
The report itself said human activity was "very likely" to be responsible for most of the observed warming in recent decades, which means the scientists are 90% sure. Emphasis has now shifted. No longer is the question whether climate change is linked to human activity. IPCC reports later this year will focus of what we must do about it.
The good news is we still have time to adapt. The IPCC panel stressed that a significant switch to "clean and resource efficient technologies" would cut expected temperature rises by half (see the Energy Revolution Report for a blueprint on how to cut emission by 50%).
This report is the first volume of three. On April 6, the IPCC will report on the impact of climate change and the adaptation and vulnerability of people and wildlife; and on May 4, it will report on potential ways to mitigate the problem.
Work on the three reports began in November 2003, with the creation of three working parties. It will finish in November this year, when the IPCC will collate its findings into a single publication. The IPCC Fourth Assessment report will be released in time for key UN climate talks in Indonesia in December.
desmogblog.com FAQ about the IPCC
The Guardian Q&A: The IPCC Report