IPCC confirms that human activity will further warm the Earth, with dramatic effects on weather, sea-levels and the Arctic
United Nations Environment Programme
September 27, 2013
Stockholm - A major international assessment of climate change adopted here by 110 governments provides conclusive new scientific evidence that human activities are causing unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate.
Produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988, the report confirms that it is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that most of the warming since 1950 has been due to human influence.
The IPCC’s previous assessment, released in 2007, described the evidence for human-caused global warming as “unequivocal,” with at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct.
The new report further states that greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would induce changes in the oceans, ice caps, glaciers, the biosphere, and other components of the climate system. Some of these changes would very likely be unprecedented over decades to thousands of years. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.
“Multiple lines of evidence confirm that the extra heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is warming the Earth’s surface to record levels, heating the oceans, raising sea levels, melting ice caps and glaciers, and changing weather patterns and extremes,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“The IPCC report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It also contains important new scientific knowledge that can be used to produce actionable climate information and services for assisting society to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” he said.
“Climate change is a long term challenge but one that requires urgent action, not tomorrow but today and right now, given the pace and the scale by which greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and the rising risks of a more than 2 degree C temperature rise,” said UN Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "For those who want to focus on the scientific question marks, that is their right do so. But today we need to focus on the fundamentals and on the actions. Otherwise the risks we run will get higher with every year."
“A universal new UN climate agreement by 2015 is critical, backed by supportive voluntary initiatives such as those managing down short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon. As work under the inclusive Green Economy shows, the benefits of a transition to a low carbon future are multiple from improved public health, food security and job generation to combating climate change now and for future generations,’ he added.
The role of the IPCC is to supply policy-relevant information about climate change to the world’s governments. Its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) will be considered by negotiators responsible for concluding a new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015.
Some of the report’s key findings include:
Three years in the making, the “Physical Science Basis” volume of the Fifth Assessment Report was produced by over 250 scientists. Additional volumes on impacts, mitigation and a synthesis will be released over the coming year. The IPCC does not conduct new research. Instead, its mandate is to make policy-relevant assessments of the existing worldwide literature on the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of climate change. Its reports have played a major role in inspiring governments to adopt and implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.