It may be unfair to yet again bring attention to the dramatic situation humanity is facing on a day like this – it being Good Friday and all. But it cannot be ignored and we are all in it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC presented it’s second report today at a press conference in Brussels. This report assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
The first report was on the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change and was released in February.
A third report will assess options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change. This report will be launched on May 4th in Bangkok.
What is clear is that regardless of how much the world manages to reduce emissions over the next years, we must be prepared for dramatic climatic changes in the next few decades. This is no longer an issue that will hit us in some distant future. It is happening now – all around us.
Outlining the report’s findings, Dr Martin Parry, co-chairman of IPCC Working Group II, said evidence showed climate change was having a direct effect on animals, plants and water.
“For the first time, we are no longer arm-waving with models; this is empirical data, we can actually measure it,” he told a news conference.
“The arctic, where temperatures are rising fast and ice is melting; sub-Saharan Africa, where dry areas are forecast to get dryer; small islands, because of their inherent lack of capacity to adapt and Asian mega-deltas, where billions of people will be at increased risk of flooding,” he explained.
As a result, the most severe impacts will be felt by the world’s poorest countries, the report says.
“The poorest of the poor in the world… are going to be the worst hit and are the most vulnerable in terms of impact of climate change,” said IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri.
Mr Pachauri said those people were also the least equipped to deal with the effects of such changes.
This is not an alarmist report; the usual suspects have done what is in their power to water down the report’s conclusions. The 20-page summary was subject to tough negotiations even this week, a fact that a number of the participating scientists have found quite problematic.
Scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries met through the night, trying to agree on the wording of a summary for policy makers.
Several delegations, including the US, Saudi Arabia, China and India, had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft. (link above)
“The authors lost,” one scientist in the negotiations told the Associated Press. “A lot of authors are not going to engage in the IPCC process any more. I have had it with them.”
It is easy to understand their frustration; the IPCC reports will form the basis for future global negotiations on climate agreements. Starting off by refusing to face the facts is not encouraging.
CNN – Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However, some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.
The climax of five days of negotiations was reached when the delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating effects of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and in a tussle over the level of scientific reliability attached to key statements.
European news sources are giving prominent coverage to the story, I had to search a bit to find the CNN-link.
Update [2007-4-6 11:15:22 by ask]: Added link to Summary Report (20-page pdf)