An 'alarm clock moment' for the world: IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is 95 percent sure human activity is to blame for global warming.  

The United Nations' body for climate change has presented its fifth major assessment on climate science in Stockholm.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is 95 percent sure human activity is to blame for global warming.


As Marina Freri reports, the IPCC says the new findings should serve as an "alarm clock moment" for the world.


It was an eagerly awaited report and it has now delivered a scathing assessment of the consequences that human activity has on climate.


The United Nations' panel, tasked with evaluating the status of global warming, has concluded it is more certain than ever before that humans are to blame for climate change over the past half century.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it predicts temperatures will rise by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius this century, while sea levels will also rise by between 26 and 82 centimetres by 2100.


Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation, Michel Jaraud, says human activity and greenhouse gas emissions are to blame not only for global warming but also for natural disasters.


"The earth suffers, the oceans, raising sea levels, melting ice caps, glaciers but we are also changing - and this is a particular concern to my organisation - weather patterns and extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods."


The IPCC has delivered four previous assessment reports in its 25-year history.


Each edition has pounded out an ever-louder drumbeat to warn that temperatures are rising and the risk to the climate system is accentuating.


The new panel's projections for the end of the century are based on computer models of trends in heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, especially from coal, oil and gas, which provide the backbone of energy supply today.


These simulations offer four possible scenarios for warming over the next few decades.


The most optimistic of the four sees an average temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius in less than a century.


For contrast, the worst scenario has an average additional warming of 3.7 degrees Celsius, a figure deemed to be catastrophic by many experts.


But the IPCC co-chairman, Thomas Stocker, says limiting climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions.


"The path of a scenario is dependent on the emissions of greenhouse gases every year and therefore human kind has a choice on which scenario we will fare in the coming hundred years or so. So it depends crucially how much carbon dioxide will be emitted in the future and I have pointed out that good approximation of the warming that is ahead of us is produced by the total amount of carbon that we have emitted since pre-industrial times."


In a video statement, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, echoed Mr Stocker's message, saying political commitment is needed to keep global temperature rise below the UN agreed two-degree Celsius threshold.


He says the new report will be essential for governments as they work to finalise a legal agreement on climate change in 2015.


Praising IPCC scientists for their work, Mr Ban has also called for an international summit in September next year to add momentum to the process.


"We need to build resilience and seize the opportunities of a low-carbon future. Thanks to the dedicated work of a global community of scientists, supported and endorsed by the World's governments, we know the nature of the problem and the options for addressing it. The heat is on, now we must act."


The IPCC report on climate change also predicts sea levels will rise a further 26-82 centimetres by the end of the century.


It says the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass over the past two decades, while glaciers have continued to melt almost all over the world.


Reacting to the findings, Oxfam Australia's climate change policy advisor, Dr Simon Bradshaw, says the report is unequivocal.


He says the weather has become extremely unpredictable and that warming is caused by human activity.


But Dr Bradshaw argues it is possible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change with determined political actions.


"Climate change is hitting the world's poor the hardest. They are of course the one with the least to do the problem. If we are to avoid a hotter and a hungrier world, there's no escaping it, we have to bring down our emissions now and quickly. We also need to provide greater support to vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change. Now this is entirely within our abilities. It's clearly matter of no technical or economical barriers to this, it is a matter of political will and leadership and that report is a very clear signal that we need to redouble our efforts."


The IPCC's full 2,000-page report won't be released until next week.


The Abbott government has declared it's pushing ahead with plans to dismantle the country's carbon pricing mechanism.


But it says it will also go ahead with plans to reduce Australia's carbon emissions by five per cent by 2020.


Feature by Marina Freri


Source World News Australia

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