IPCC: "Abrupt or Irreversible Climate Changes and Impacts"

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From Agence France Presse

The UN’s Nobel-winning panel on climate change on Friday completed a draft report that said the consequences of global warming could be far-reaching and irreversible.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) encapsulates a massive review of the global-warming issue, with the goal of guiding policymakers for the next five years.

IPCC delegates agreed on the draft summary after night-long negotiations, chief French delegate Marc Gillet told AFP.

Human activities “could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate changes and impacts,” the agreed text said.

The report will be officially adopted on Saturday, followed by a press conference attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, delegates aid.

The so-called synthesis report summarises the main points from three massive documents issued this year covering the evidence for climate change; the present and possible future impacts of it; and the options for tackling the peril.

“The synthesis is quite balanced. It is a good summary of what was described in the three reports,” said Gillet.

After Saturday, attention will shift to a meeting in Bali, Indonesia, next month.

Governments will try to set down a “roadmap” for negotiations that will end in a deal to cut carbon emissions and help developing nations adapt to climate change.

Measures to be vetted in the December 3-14 conference aim at deepening and accelerating cuts in greenhouse-gas pollution after 2012, when current pledges under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol expire.

The IPCC experts agreed that the rise in Earth’s temperature observed in the past few decades was principally due to human causes, not natural ones, as “climate skeptics” often aver.

The impacts of climate change are already visible, in the form of retreating glaciers and snow loss in alpine regions, thinning Arctic summer sea ice and thawing permafrost, according to predictions in the three IPCC reports issued earlier this year.

By 2100, global average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 C (1.98 F) and 6.4 C (11.52 F) compared to 1980-99 levels, while sea levels will rise by between 18 and 59 centimetres (7.2 and 23.2 inches), according to the IPCC’s forecast.

Heatwaves, rainstorms, drought, tropical cyclones and surges in sea level are among the events expected to become more frequent, more widespread and/or more intense this century.

As a result, water shortages, hunger, flooding and damage to homes will be a heightened threat.

“All countries” will be affected, says the IPCC. Those bearing the brunt, though, will be poor countries which incidentally bear the least responsibility for creating the problem.

Yan Hong, deputy secretary of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), one of the IPCC’s two parent bodies, warned on Monday that climate change bore “potential implications for world peace” by intensifying squabbles over water, food and energy.

“It could also lead to massive population resettlement, especially to urban areas that may not have capacity to shelter, feed and employ them,” he said.

The IPCC won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize alongside climate campaigner and former US vice president Al Gore.

The panel, comprising specialists in atmospheric chemistry, ocean biology, glaciation, economics and many other disciplines, issues regular reviews, called assessment reports, on global warming.

It has been widely praised for the impartiality and objectivity of its reports, although this year some experts have said its review process may be too conservative and slow-moving to assess what now transpires to be a fast-moving problem.

This year’s is the fourth assessment report since the IPCC was established in 1988 by the WMO and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).