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IPCC: CLIMATE CHANGE


THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces reports that support the main international treaty on climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To date, the Panel has so far produced four assessment reports, and will finalize its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in October this year. The following is a brief summary of the Working Reports that comprise the Fifth Assessment Report.


The Editor


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded in 1988 by request of member governments of the United Nations. It is a scientific intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations.


It was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess climate change and its impact worldwide, hereby formulating adequate response strategies. Since 1990, the IPCC has published four comprehensive assessment reports, covering topics such as climate science, the impact of climate change worldwide, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation strategies. Assessments consist of three Working Group Reports plus a Synthesis Report. The latter summarizes the materials of the three Working Group Reports as well as special reports. It presents the information in a non-technical style suitable for policymakers.


This year two Working Reports have been released on the impact of climate change, adaption strategies


198 | The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three


and vulnerability (Working Group Report II) and the mitigation of climate change (Working Group Report III). They were preceded by a report on the physical science basis of climate change, published in 2013 (Working Group Report I).


While Working Report I confirmed that it is extremely likely that human activity has been the dominant cause for global warming since the mid-20th century, Working Report II details the impacts of climate change to date and confirms that its effects are occurring in all continents and across all oceans. The most recently released report, the Working Group Report III, asserts that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen despite growing policy efforts to reduce climate change. In fact, emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades. This implies that if a dangerous rise in temperature is to be prevented, business as usual cannot prevail.1


The report states that an increase in global temperature rise can be limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This can be achieved by


lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 per cent – compared with emissions of 2010 – by mid-century and near-zero by the end of this century. This could be effected by investing into a wide array of technological measures. These include quadrupling low-carbon energy from renewable resources by 2050 as well as enhancing energy efficiency, which could give humanity more flexibility in deploying a wide range of techniques to cope with the reduction of greenhouse gases. Other options include the use of nuclear power, bioenergy and fossil energy, however not without relying on carbon capture and storage, a developing technology that buries carbon dioxide but carries risks.


Estimations of costs for mitigation vary. In business-as-usual scenarios, the report dismisses fears that drastically reducing emissions would inhibit global economic growth. In fact, global growth would only divert 0.06 per cent from expected global growth rates of 1.3 to 3 per cent, if the recommendations of the IPCC would materialize.2


This figure does not


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