The most comprehensive assessment of the science of climate change, published last week, has confirmed that urgent international political action is needed if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global temperatures continue to rise and that there has been an acceleration in the rate of changes observed over the last few decades.
The report confirms that the window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change is closing more quickly than previously thought. The international political commitment needs to take action to avoid dangerous climate change. “This has been absent so far, but if we are to succeed, we will require the engagement not just of environmental ministers but heads of state, prime ministers and finance ministers,” said Environment Secretary David Miliband.
The principal driver of current climate change is human greenhouse-gas emissions: human activities are causing concentrations of greenhouse gases to reach unprecedented levels.
The report says that by the end of the 21st century, temperatures may rise by between 1,8 to 4 deg C if there are low emissions of greenhouse gases. Otherwise, if the emission of greenhouse gases is not curbed, the temperatures could increase by between 1,1 and 6,4 C.
Another grave concern is the sea level may rise by up to half a metre by the end of this century. The projected warming will increase the frequency of heat waves and heavy precipitation events, affect storminess and reduce snow and ice cover.
This fourth report by Working Group I of the IPCC – the panel concerned with the physical science of climate change – is the first of three volumes forming the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This will be followed by a synthesis report that will encapsulate the key conclusions of the three Working Groups.
To find out more, visit http://www.ipcc.ch/index.html