Global Warming: Abrupt

IPCC to warn of ‘abrupt’ warming
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Valencia

Climate change may bring “abrupt and irreversible” impacts, the UN’s climate advisory panel is set to announce.
Delegates to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed a summary of its landmark report during overnight negotiations here.

Discussions were said to have been robust, with the US and other delegations keen to moderate language.

The summary will be officially launched by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Saturday.

It brings together elements of the three reports that the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC has already released this year, on the science of climate change, impacts and adaptation, and options for mitigating the problem.

Among its top-line conclusions are that climate change is “unequivocal”, that humankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases are more than 90% likely to be the main cause, and that impacts can be reduced at reasonable cost.

IPCC PROJECTIONS
Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C
Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of century
Increase in heatwaves very likely
Increase in tropical storm intensity likely
The synthesis summary being discussed here in Valencia strengthens the language of those earlier reports with a warning that climate change may bring “abrupt and irreversible” impacts.
Such impacts could include the fast melting of glaciers and species extinctions.

“Climate change is here, it’s impacting our lives and our economies, and we need to do something about it,” commented Hans Verolme, director of the climate change programme with the environmental group WWF.

“After this report, there are no politicians left who can argue they don’t know what climate change is or they don’t know what to do about it.”

Local witnesses

At a news conference, WWF presented testimonies from “climate change witnesses” in various parts of the world.

Speaking by video link, Australian scientists and fishermen spoke of the changes they were seeing on the Great Barrier Reef. And Olav Mathis Eira, a Sami reindeer herder from Norway, said that his communities are seeing weather patterns unprecedented in their oral history.

“Winter is one and a half months later than it used to be,” he said. “We observed birds and insects that do not have a name in Sami.”

The 20-page IPCC synthesis summary is due to be accompanied by a longer, more detailed document, and discussions on that are continuing here.

The findings will feed into the next round of negotiations on the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol, which open in Bali on 3 December.

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