• The UN’s climate science panel today published its report on what impacts climate change is having on humans and the natural world, and what effects we can expect in the decades to come. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.
• Food supplies will be affected as yields from major crops including wheat, maize and rice decrease
• The report is clear that the poor will suffer most, and that rising temperatures could set back efforts for developing countries to climb out of poverty
• Al Gore says the report should serve as a call to action: “The consensus is clear. We need an immediate and determined shift to a clean, renewable economy,” he said in response to the IPCC report.
• There’s been a ‘row’ between one of the 70-strong writing team behind the report, Richard Tol, and the co-chair of the group that produced the report, Chris Field. Tol pulled out of the writing process, saying drafts were too “alarmist”. Field said: “When you get an IPCC report, you see the position of the scientific community.” He joked: “Every IPCC author thinks the report would be a lot better if it put more emphasis on his or her work.”
• Field told the BBC’s Today programme that report shows that “the risk of severe and pervasive impacts goes up dramatically in a world that doesn’t pay attention to high emissions”
This liveblog is closing up now. You can follow our rolling coverage of the IPPC report on this page
The UK-based blog CarbonBrief has fished out this map from the report, on the different impacts to humans and the natural world across the planet:
News coverage has been pretty divergent, reflecting the comprehensive and wide-ranging nature of the report itself.
The Times and Mail have led on the report increasing its estimate of the economic costs of climate change:
• Climate change will cost more than we thought, experts say (Times, paywall)
The New York Times, Telegraph and BBC lead on the scale of the impact:
The Independent singles out the risks to food and security:
While the FT, perhaps surprisingly, leads on a ‘row’ between two of the scientists (Chris Field and Richard Tol, see my post at 8.36am for more on that):
The Met Office has responded to the IPCC report, and flagged up its own mini-report last week on extreme weather and climate change – which warned that the UK will be become both too wet and too dry in the future.
Here’s professor Richard Betts, head of impacts at the Met Office and one of the lead authors on the IPCC report:
This report draws together multiple strands of evidence to show that climate change is already having a global impact, particularly on the natural world, and that it will have bigger impacts in the future.
UK government reaction
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has put out an FAQ on the IPCC report.
It notes that while the UK is not singled out specifically in the report, it does say that Europe will suffer:
• Increased economic losses and more people affected by flooding in river basins and coasts, as urbanisation continues, sea levels rise and peak river flows increase;
• Increased water restrictions. Significant reduction in water availability from river abstraction and from groundwater resources combined with increased water demand (e.g. for irrigation, energy and industry and domestic use);
• Increased economic losses and people affected by extreme heat events: impacts on health and well-being, labour productivity, crop production and air quality
Flooding obviously hit hard in England this winter and has previously been rated by the government as the number one threat from climate change in the UK. Those “increased economic losses” that the IPCC expects could be pretty high – one recent study expects flooding costs across Europe to rise from €4.5bn annually now to €23bn by 2050.
Lord Deben, chairman of the government’s climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, says that ignoring the warnings in today’s report would be to “betray our future”:
The UK-based Science Media Centre has rounded up useful reaction from climate scientists, several of whom contributed to the IPCC report.
Professor Paul Bates, member of the Royal Society Working Group on Human Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters said:
This new report makes clear that the effects of climate change over the coming decades will be far reaching and will affect almost every aspect of our lives from food production, health, the economy to the environment. At the same time a growing global population that is increasingly urbanized and interconnected is making society more vulnerable and less resilient. There is also good evidence that climate-related hazards hit those living in poverty the hardest.
Prof Robert Nicholls, University of Southampton and Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 6: Coastal Systems and Low-Lying Areas, said:
The report reaffirms the importance of coastal zones as a hotspot for climate impacts. Climate adaptation for coasts has grown significantly over the last few years, and these efforts need to further developed in the coming decades.”
Dr Rachel Warren, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and school of Environmental Sciences at UEA, and co-ordinating lead author of Chapter 19: Emergent Risks and Key Vulnerabilities, lays the impacts as temperatures rise:
Global temperatures have already risen by 0.8C. If we do not take action to reduce carbon emissions, global temperatures could rise by 3-6C by the end of the century.
WGII [the group behind today’s report] shows that the 0.8C rise we have already experienced has impacted agriculture and ecosystems.
If temperatures rise by 2C, there will be further impacts to ecosystems, increased levels of extreme weather and problems for crop yields and water supplies.
If temperatures go above 2C, we will risk melting of the Greenland ice sheet and other large scale changes. By 4C there will be a high impact on global agriculture, water resources and ecosystems, and a high risk to the Greenland ice sheet. Most world regions will be affected.
Prof Sam Fankhauser, who was a contributing author to AR5 Chapter 17: Economics of Adaptation and who is Co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said:
The report documents how countries are already making themselves more resilient to the impacts of climate change, but much more needs to be done. In the UK and the rest of northern Europe, we will need to cope with increasing risks from coastal and inland flooding, heat waves and droughts. The UK and all rich countries must also provide significant support to help poor countries, which are particularly vulnerable, to cope with the impacts of climate change.
Here’s a wrap of reaction from green groups.
Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative:
This report tells us that we have two clear choices: cut emissions now and invest in adaption – and have a world that has challenging and just barely manageable risks; or do nothing and face a world of devastating and unmanageable risks and impacts.
The report makes it clear that we still have time to act. We can limit climate instability and adapt to some of the changes we see now. But without immediate and specific action, we are in danger of going far beyond the limits of adaptation. With this risk posed so clearly, we have to hope that the next IPCC report which is being released in Berlin in April, will provide us with strong statements on the solutions that we know exist.
Kaisa Kosonen at Greenpeace International said:
We’re walking a tightrope, but if we act boldly and cut climate pollution faster major threats to human security can still be avoided and vital ocean systems, forests and species protected. Our actions will define how history will judge us and we question world leaders: will you stand with us?
Asad Rehman, head of international climate at Friends of the Earth, said:
Scientists have rung the last alarm bell with this report – rich industrialized countries can no longer protect the interests of corporations who pollute whilst refusing to face up to the costs of that pollution to people’s lives and to the planet.
More on the IPCC report
Here’s some more of our coverage of the report:
• In a pointed dig at Conservative chancellor, George Osborne, who has said he doesn’t want the UK out ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to cutting carbon emissions, Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, told The Observer that:
Climate change is hugely threatening to our way of life, in the UK, Europe and the world. Not to lead is deeply irresponsible. If you don’t lead, you will not bring others with you.
• John Vidal has been in Manila, looking at what the impact of a warming world will be on cities like the Philippines capital. He spoke to Yeb Sano, the Philippine government’s climate change commissioner, who said:
Every city and every sector of our country and society is at risk. The IPCC tells us it will probably get 4C warmer. That means everything will be compromised, from food and energy to settlements. We are not ready. The challenge is too huge. I cannot imagine what would happen if a typhoon the strength of Yolanda hit Manila or the second city, Cebu. It would be a global disaster. It will take us 20 years to recover from Yolanda as it is. We lost 1m homes then. We are very vulnerable.
• Ahead of the report, Stephen Moss has been talking to retired scientist James Lovelock, best known for his Gaia hypothesis, who said he thought he’d been too overconfident of warming predictions in his 2006 book, the Revenge of Gaia:
I was a little too certain in that book. You just can’t tell what’s going to happen. It [the impact from climate change] could be terrible within a few years, though that’s very unlikely, or it could be hundreds of years before the climate becomes unbearable.
• Oh, and lastly, a great interactive guide that was built for the first part of this trilogy of IPCC reports: how hot will it get in my lifetime?
The full report is up on the IPCC site now, along with this 12-minute film on the impacts of climate change.
Jonathon Porritt, the former head of the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK green watchdog which was axed by the government in its ‘bonfire of the quangoes’, echoes the point Field made in his BBC interview:
Europe’s climate action commissioner, has gone for a variation on the wake-up call metaphor:
Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 report on the economics of climate change, says:
While people in all countries will need to make themselves more resilient to those impacts that cannot now be avoided over the next few decades, the potential risks from unmitigated climate change towards the end of this century and into the next will be very severe, particularly if global warming exceeds 2 centigrade degrees. The report warns that, during this century, climate change will increase the risk of human populations being displaced to escape shifts in extreme weather, such as floods and droughts, as well as relatively slow-onset impacts, such as desertification and sea level rise.
This report presents a stark case for sharply reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to avoid potentially catastrophic impacts, such as the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the resultant rise in sea level, to which we will not be able to make ourselves fully resilient and which lie outside the evolutionary experience of modern Homo sapiens.
A little more from that Field interview on Today. He had a nice metaphor for how he saw the difference between the IPCC and organisations that campaign on climate change, such as WWF, Greenpeace and other groups:
The role of the IPCC is not to motivate action. The IPCC is charged with providing a scientific, balanced assessment about what’s known and what’s known about climate change
There are lots of organisations ringing bells
The IPCC is more like a belltower, which people can climb up to get a clear view
Al Gore, the former US vice-president and winner of the Nobel peace prize for his work on climate change, has responded to the IPCC report by saying it shows the need for a switch to low carbon sources of energy (note his emphasis is on mitigation, i.e. cutting emissions, rather than adaptation, i.e. learning to live with higher temperatures). He says the report:
represents even more definitive evidence of the growing urgency to immediately reduce the spewing of global warming pollution. The atmosphere can no longer be used as an open sewer. The costs of carbon pollution are clear: decreasing crop yields, more destructive storms, the spreading of tropical diseases to temperate latitudes, rising seas, more climate refugees, failures of governance, increasing floods, deepening droughts, more destructive fires and heat waves — all contributing to the new reality of the global climate crisis. Put together, these factors are already affecting the lives of millions around the world by driving them from their homes, disrupting their livelihoods, and in some cases, further straining destabilized regions.
The consensus is clear. We need an immediate and determined shift to a clean, renewable economy. The continued mass burning of fossil fuels is inconsistent with a healthy, prosperous future for our civilization.
Listening to Webb’s line of questioning – ‘the big story is not gloom and doom, the message in this report could be read as… if we spend money we can survive and prosper’ – it’s perhaps easy to see why campaigners were protesting outside Broadcasting House in London last week at what they saw as unbalanced coverage of climate change on the BBC.
Field was repeatedly quizzed on whether he was omitting all the good news in the IPCC report.
Webb flagged up complaints by Richard Tol, a University of Sussex economics professor and one of the 70-strong writing team behind the final IPCC report, who told the BBC:
The drafts of the summary struck a very balanced tone. It sort of turned into a positive message about how these risk are manageable, to a story about just the risks… [suggesting] climate change is a terrible thing and the only solution is to reduce greenhouse gases as soon as possible
But the BBC didn’t mention that one of Tol’s key findings submitted for the report was dismissed last week as “completely meaningless” by governments.
Chris Field, one of the co-chairs of working group II behind today’s report, has been speaking to the Today programme.
There is an element of the report that capitalises on the opportunities for investments in adaptation. An equally strong message is that the risk of severe and pervasive impacts goes up dramatically in a world that doesn’t pay attention to high emissions
If there’s one message that comes through more clearly there any other [in the report], it’s that we’ll face consequential impacts from climate change
Broadcaster Justin Webb pushed Field several times to say that today’s report shows there is some good news to come from climate change. Field replied:
There are examples of where benefits might accrue from climate change, especially small benefits with a small amount of climate change, but the report is full of impacts that are severe and pervasive…
And Field listed what we he saw as the three key messages of the report:
• Climate change impacts have already occurred with real impacts around the world
• Moving forward, risks with climate change are really pervasive especially with a high [greenhouse gas] emissions trajectory
• Risks are substantially decreased with mitigation and adaptation
Adam Vaughan here. I’m going to open the liveblog to wrap up the reaction to the report, which is beginning to flood in. In a few minutes, we should hear from Chris Field, one of the co-chairs of the IPCC group behind today’s report, on the BBC Today programme.
In the meantime, Suzanne Goldenberg has been speaking to Rajenda Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, about the report. He says:
I hope these facts will, for want of a better word, jolt people into action. It’s a sort of breakthrough over the knowledge that already exists in this field.
That’s where we’ll leave the Guardian’s blog on the IPCC report on climate change effects on people and the planet.
You can read Suzanne Goldenberg’s full report here.
- The IPCC report, released today, has revealed the state of climate change’s effect on people and the planet.
- It’s the second of three (the first looked at physical effects and the next will look at solutions) and the first update in seven years.
- The report was compiled by more than 300 scientists. Nearly 500 people signed off on the wording of the report, including 66 expert authors, 271 officials from 115 countries, and 57 observers.
- “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” – IPCC chairman, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri.
- The effects of climate change are undeniable, and there is no “pause,” said IPCC. The worst is yet to come.
- Climate change impacts include food security issues and extreme events, and severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts on species, as well as a risk of crossing environmental tipping points.
- Great Barrier Reef under threat.
- Food supply already affected. This is the first time that the IPCC has taken a direct look at food supply and security. Staples like wheat and maize have already shown declines in crop yields in recent decades, and fish stocks also declining.
- People living in poverty are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and will continue to bear the brunt of it.
- Between 2005 and 2010 the volume of scientific papers on the effects climate change doubled.
- The report focused heavily on mitigation and adaptation, and labelled the climate change effort as “a challenge in risk management”.
- “This evidence strengthens the case for early action in the UK and around the world to lessen the significant risks posed by climate change. We cannot afford to wait.” – UK secretary of state for energy and climate change, Edward Davey.
- “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy.” US secretary of state, John Kerry.
- The IPCC report “reinforces the government’s support for the science and the need to take action to combat climate change.” – Australian environment minister, Greg Hunt.
UK political reaction
The secretary of state for energy and climate change, Edward Davey has released a statement in response to the IPCC report. Davey said “the science has clearly spoken” and cited Britain’s recent floods as “testament to the devastation climate change could bring.”
“The UK is leading from the front and working with our European partners. We’ve adopted some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world,” he said.
“This evidence strengthens the case for early action in the UK and around the world to lessen the significant risks posed by climate change. We cannot afford to wait.”
US political reaction
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that failing to act immediately and decisively on climate change will have “catastrophic” and wide-ranging consequences, reports AFP.
“Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy,” said Kerry.
“Denial of the science is malpractice.”
“There are those who say we can’t afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic,” he added.
We earlier saw a statement from the science advisor to the White House, John Holdren.
Australian political reaction
The Australian environment minister, Greg Hunt, has told the Guardian the IPCC report “reinforces the government’s support for the science and the need to take action to combat climate change.”
“Australia is committed to addressing the challenges through direct and practical policy measures. This includes reducing emissions by five percent from 2000 levels by 2020. Central to achieving this is the creation of the Emissions Reduction Fund,” said Hunt.
“The five percent target represents serious action and is comparable with the action being taken by other countries when compared using 2005 as the benchmark starting point.”
Hunt also maintained the government’s argument that Australia’s carbon tax does not work and needs to be repealed.The federal government has twice now had a bill to repeal Australia’s carbon tax blocked in the Senate.
Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said the government is making the wrong choices.
“The Abbott Government has consistently ignored expert advice about the impending risks of climate change and is attempting to unravel the policy framework established by the previous Labor Government which was designed to address the exact risks identified in the IPCC report,” said Butler.
“In its place, Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt are trying to introduce Direct Action, a deeply flawed, short-term tokenistic policy that pays big polluters to keep polluting.”
The Greens leader, Christine Milne called on the government to heed the IPCC’s report.
“In the face of more calls for a global response, the Abbott government wants to rip up every policy and tear down every defence that Australia has against climate change,” said Milne.
“This report shows that climate change is overwhelming and will affect every aspect of our lives. Not only will it dramatically impact the natural world we live in, it is an economic issue, an employment issue, a health, housing, and agricultural issue. It’s an immigration and a transportation issue.”
I’ll wrap up this blog shortly, but first, here is a comprehensive write up on today from the Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg in Yokohama, Japan.
The report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters.
And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.
The ocean has absorbed the equivalent of two atomic bombs every second in energy, says one of the coordinating lead authors, and the early effects of climate change are likely to impact key industries.
“This report identifies tourism and maritime shipping as industries likely to feel some of the earliest and most significant climate change impacts, said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, an IPCC coordinating lead author and director of the University of Queensland global change institute.
“Extreme weather events affect holidays and disrupt global transport schedules. Even a one degree Celsius temperature change above today will bring devastatingly expensive impacts for human communities and economies.
“Oceans have absorbed over 90 per cent of the heat arising from human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and have soaked up around 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The rate at which energy has been entering the ocean is phenomenal, equivalent to the addition of two atomic bombs every second,” said Hoegh-Guldberg.
“The ability of ocean species to adapt genetically to increasing levels of stress brought on by rising temperatures and increased ocean acidification is not occurring fast enough, given the long generation times of many organisms such as corals and fish. Combined with temperature rise, ocean acidification could seriously impact calcifying organisms and coastal aquaculture, causing irreversible damage to oceans and economies.”
“Climate change has already delivered severe economic damage and things will only get worse without more action,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President & CEO of the environmental research organisation, the World Resources Institute.
“The report makes it clear that deep and rapid cuts in emissions can greatly reduce the costs of these impacts. Taking action now will undoubtedly be less expensive than waiting.
Governments have a responsibility to protect people and businesses from climate hazards by increasing resilience. But, we also need to make significant emissions reductions to get on a safer path.”
Suzanne Goldenberg has filed the five key points from the IPCC, after it revealed the world faces threats to food supply, conflicts over water rights and growing inequality.
1. Food threat
2. Human security
4. No-one is safe
5. It’s hard but not hopeless
Emma Bryce writes on what the report means for the world’s “agricultural road map”. The IPCC report yields clues about our future food scenario, and in the meantime two studies have exposed the scene at global and local scales.
“Just recently, two studies emerged that each offered a unique look at the force of these impacts—the first, a globe-scale evaluation, and the second a study that zooms in to consider effects closer to the ground. Both paint a picture of a planet in even greater flux by mid-century,” she writes.
Read Emma’s full article here.
If rising sea levels, reduced crops and dying reefs aren’t enough to get you worried about the content in the IPCC’s report, perhaps the fate of your morning coffee will do it.
My Guardian colleague Damian Carrington writes:
Global warming is leading to bad, expensive coffee. Almost 2bn cups of coffee perk up its drinkers every day, but a perfect storm of rising heat, extreme weather and ferocious pests mean the highland bean is running out of cool mountainsides on which it flourishes.
The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was “high” and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, “very high,” and colors it deep purple.
You might as well call it a “horrible” risk level, said report co-author Maarten van Aalst, a top official at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
IPCC report warns of future climate change risks, but is spun by contrarians
Dana Nuccitelli writes for the Guardian, looking at the arguments made against mitigation and risk management.
Contrarians have tried to spin the conclusions of the report to incorrectly argue that it would be cheaper to try and adapt to climate change and pay the costs of climate damages. In reality the report says no such thing. The IPCC simply tells us that even if we manage to prevent the highest risk scenarios, climate change costs will still be high, and we can’t even grasp how high climate damage costs will be in the highest risk scenarios.
Part of the report examines the impact of sea level rises, and takes a specific look at Australia and New Zealand. I mentioned some of the facts and figures earlier, but the IPCC summary also looks at the impact of government bureaucracy and litigation has on effectively mitigating future problems.
“..experience in Australia has shown high litigation potential and opposing priorities at different levels of government, [are] undermining retreat policies,” it reads.
“Mandatory disclosure of information about future risks, community engagement and policy stability are critical to support retreat, but existing-use rights, liability concerns, special interests, community resources, place attachment and divergent priorities at different levels of government present powerful constraints.”
The exact wording of the report only agreed yesterday afternoon after days of debate, and a number of all-nighters wrangling over language. The Bolivians wants to stick in a line about “Mother Earth”. The Saudi delegation was pushing for the scientists to talk about the dangers of dust. Both efforts failed. – Suzanne Goldenberg
More on that last quote from the IPCC, framing climate change action as “a challenge in managing risk.”
For those who like word clouds, the Red Cross has done a quick count and found that in the 26-page summary of the report the word “risk” is used more than 230 times. The last time the IPCC released this report seven years ago, risk was only mentioned 40 times.
“Key risks by geographical region strongly echo many of the climate-related humanitarian emergencies that millions of volunteers and staff of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have responded to over the past decade,” said the organisation.
Some background on why the panel is really hammering just how comprehensive this report is, particularly in regards to adaption and mitigation.
The number of scientific publications available for assessing climate-change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, with especially rapid increases in publications related to adaptation, according to the IPCC.
The IPCC’s press release described the report as “bold,” arguing that it “frames managing climate change as a challenge in managing risks, using this characterisation as a starting point for two of the report’s core themes. The first is the importance of considering the full range of possible outcomes, including not only high-probability outcomes. It also considers outcomes with much lower probabilities but much, much larger consequences. Second, characterising climate change as a challenge in managing risks opens doors to a wide range of options for solutions. “
The panel was just asked about “the pause” – which is a favourite new meme of climate change deniers, says Suzanne Goldenberg.
The panel has been pretty categorical: “There is no pause,” said Chris Field.
Michel Jarraud is going into more detail – 13 of the last 14 years were the warmest years on record. “I really refuse to accept that we can talk about a pause.”
Back in Yokohama, Suzanne Goldenberg is keeping an eye on the IPCC press conference.
The IPCC is drilling down into how climate change will affect food security. It’s complicated stuff. Crop yields are still continuing to increase, but at a much slower rate than they were at the beginning of the Green Revolution 40 years ago, and not fast enough to keep up with population growth.
But the WMO’s Michel Jarraud just raised another risk – food price shocks. Big food spike prices in 2008 pushed 44 million into poverty, and led to food riots and unrest in 14 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Many of the big commodity crops are dominated by one producer. America for example is the biggest global producer of corn, which is set to be badly affected by hgh temperature and droughts caused by climate change.
It’s not enough just to look at average agriculture yields, said Michel Jarraud. You have to take into account the extremes.
“We know all the ingredients are there for a new food crisis you just need a few extremes climate affecting a few big producers on the planet and the crisis is there.”
More from Kathleen McInnes:
On ocean warming impacts:
Climate zones have shifted south, and the East Australian Current has advanced poleward by 350km over the last 60 years. “Unprecedented” temperatures off Western Australia in 2010-2011 led to the first ever reported coral bleaching of the Ningaloo reef.
Edit: This post has been edited to more clearly differentiate between the two statements regarding sea level rises.
The report looked at extreme Australian events, highlight risks posed by flooding, heatwaves, fires, and coral bleaching, Australian scientists have told media.
Adaptation is occurring in Australia but mostly at a planning/conceptual level, according to climatologist Penelope Whetton.
Kathleen McInnes, lead author on the coastal systems and low laying areas chapter, says the global mean sea level rise is projected to be 0.28-0.98 M BY 2100, but it’s important to remember that sea levels will continue to rise beyond prediction models.
A question from the floor: was this a struggle between alarmists and non-alarmists when deciding on the language?
The question is referring to one of the 70 authors, Professor Richard Tol, who last week said he had pulled out of the writing team because it was “alarmist” about the threat of climate change.
“When you get an IPCC report, you see the position of the scientific community,” said Field.
“Every IPCC author thinks the report would be a lot better if it put more emphasis on his or her work,” joked Field.
The report is “about finding the position of the scientific community,” not just the authors, but also the thousands of scientists around the world, said Field.
Pachauri adds his two cents : “I want to pay tribute to the scientists who have the rationality and objectivity to take in a whole range of viewpoints and then come up with something that is scientifically valid and defendable.”
From Suzanne Goldenberg:
We just got to one of the really tricky sections of the report – how much will climate change hurt the bottom line? This is one area where there really isn’t much hard data, because of a lack of reliability in economic models.
One number that is out in the report is that climate change will shave between .2 and 2% of global income, if warming remains at about 2C.
That is far lower than other economists say, and it opens up the question just now: why bother to cut greenhouse gas emissions at all if that’s the limit of the cost?
Chris Field said those reports don’t take into account the full range of impacts, or plan for what might happen with catastrophic climate events, such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
“We certainly wouldn’t anyone to come away from this report doing a simple comparative analysis comparing mitigation with the costs of adaptation,” Field said.
For those who want to read the summary of the report for themselves, it has now been published online here. The full report will be released at a later date.
Some assistance from my colleague Suzanne Goldenberg who is at the press conference in Yokohama.
For the uninitiated, there are two buzz words that you are going to hear a lot of just now – mitigation and adaptation.
Mitigation are the actions that governments take to reduce the emissions that cause climate change.
Adaptation is how societies protect themselves from climate change – like building sea walls as protection from sea level rise, early warning systems for more lead time on extreme weather events.
One of the underlining messages of this report, however, was that you have to have both.
With temperatures now projected to rise beyond 2 degrees C, nobody will be safe from climate change no matter how many sea walls get built, or how many cooling centres are installed to shelter people from heat waves.
On the other hand, even if you greenhouse gas emissions to zero today – which obviously isn’t going to happen – there is still enough climate change locked into the system that a lot of the bad stuff the report has warned about – heat waves, drought, wildfires, and food shortages – is still coming our way.
WWF Australia has called the report a “wake up call” to prime minister Tony Abbott.
“This latest IPCC report ramps up the urgency for the Government to put in place a credible plan to protect Australia from climate change impacts.
“That includes stronger pollution reduction targets and a price and limit on pollution to achieve those targets.”
From Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner based in the Philippines:
“Let’s not get distracted by limited economic models or be blinded by global GDP. What value can you put on the lives of 8,000 people left dead or missing by typhoon Haiyan? Or what is the cost of the trauma of children being torn from their mother’s arms due to storm surges? That is the true cost of climate change that should define the urgency of the action we take.”
Climate change is going to intensify the impact of poverty, said Opondo.
People are already marginalised. “In the urban areas the poor are going to be harder hit. Africa has lots of slums, and in the slum areas there are not the proper facilities.”
Add in climate change and its effects, and people living in poverty become even more vulnerable, she said.
Pachauri has thanked Opondo for her answer but added that regional poor people are also affected because many are in a situation of subsistence living, and those near the coast face the impact of rising sea levels.
Essentially, it’s an expansion on one of the main themes of this report – the poorer people in the world are begin hit the hardest by the effects of climate change, whether they live urban or rurally.
We’ll have a full report on the press conference for you later today. In the meantime governments, environmental groups, and charities are already weighing in.
Science advisor to the White House John Holdren has released a statement in response to the IPCC report. Below is a snippet:
The IPCC’s new report underscores the need for immediate action in order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. It reflects scientists’ increased confidence that the kinds of harm already being experienced as a result of climate change are likely to worsen as the world continues to warm.
The report highlights the widespread and substantial observed impacts of climate change, and its growing adverse effects on livelihoods, ecosystems, economies, and human health. Importantly, it also concludes that effective adaptation measures can help build a more resilient global society in the near term and beyond.
Climate change report: 'The worst is yet to come' – as it happened have 6509 words, post on www.theguardian.com at March 31, 2014. This is cached page on Business News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.