A new expert report confirming the existence of global warming and asserting that it is likely driven by human activities should eliminate any doubt that speedy and decisive action is needed in response, the senior United Nations climate change official said today.
According to the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world faces an average temperature rise of around 3°C this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current pace and are allowed to double from their pre-industrial level.
“The findings, which governments have agreed upon, leave no doubt as to the dangers mankind is facing and must be acted upon without delay,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“Any notion that we do not know enough to move decisively against climate change has been clearly dispelled.”
He called on governments to advance negotiations being held under UN auspices. “The world urgently needs new international agreement on stronger emission caps for industrialized countries, incentives for developing countries to limit their emissions, and support for robust adaptation measures,” he said.
The new report says that warming during the last 100 years was 0.74 °C, with most of the warming occurring during the past 50 years due to human activities. The world is expected to warm at the rate of 0.2 °C per decade for the next 20 years, or 3ºC.
The report was a consensus agreement of climate scientists and experts from 40 countries and was endorsed by 113 governments in Paris this week.
“It is politically significant that all the governments have agreed to the conclusions of the scientists, making this assessment a solid foundation for sound decision making,” Mr. de Boer said.
But some of the direst predictions in the IPCC report – that can happen if no efforts are taken to reduce emissions – such as temperature increases of 4.5°C (8.1°F) and sea level rise of up to 58 centimetres over the next century, could be avoided if necessary action is taken.
“The good news is that the worst predictions of the IPCC are based on scenarios which do not take into account action to combat climate change now or in the future. Both the policies and technologies to prevent such consequences are available and putting them in place is precisely what the Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol are designed to do.”
The Kyoto Protocol presently requires 35 industrialized countries and the European Community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in its first commitment period between 2008 and 2012.