The world’s top scientists have given their clearest warning yet of the severe and irreversible effects of climate change unless emissions of greenhouse gases are virtually eliminated by the end of the century.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a major summary of its last three reports.
The IPCC report said emissions of three key greenhouse gases were at their highest in more than 800,000 years – the recent increases being mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels.
It said earth is now on a trajectory for at least 4 degrees Celcius warming by 2100 over pre-industrial times – a recipe for worsening drought, flood, rising seas and species extinctions.
Most of the world’s electricity can, and must, be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050 of the world faces “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage, it said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said science had spoken. “There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”‘
“There is a myth that climate action will cost heavily,” said Mr Ban, “but inaction will cost much more.”
The findings contained in the executive summary for the report are chilling. It reinforces findings from previous studies. It is clear that the climate is changing and that this is due to the emission of greenhouse gasses, in particular carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The report concludes that the emission of these gasses are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. This is defined as there being a 95%+ likelihood that the emission of GHGs are the dominant cause of observed warming.
The panel has come up with some clear goals:
Clearly strong political leadership will be required if we are to get even close to addressing the rate of change. THe current goal is to minimise an increase in global warming to 2%. If humanity does not achieve this it is in for a very rocky road. And we are all in this together, every country needs to step up and lead and do their bit.
On Morning Report this morning John Key chose to spend his time talking about ISIS. On the scale of things Climate Change presents a far greater threat to New Zealand than the threat posed by any terrorist group.
The Government has taken a typical head in the sand approach to the issue. Tim Groser is reported by Radio New Zealand to have said the following:
“There are certainly some large companies like New Zealand Steel, Tiwai Point, that have real competitiveness issues that if you unleashed Green Party views on them they’d probably go out of business.
“Equally one remembers the massive carbon tax they were going to put on dairy farmers and then we saw a 40 percent fall in the dairy price.”
Mr Groser said New Zealand was taking a balanced approach to climate change – playing its part while avoiding imposing excessive costs on households and businesses.
Get that? Groser believes that the recent fall in milk prices was due to Green Party policy, not international market forces. The only word for this statement is delusional.
And the claim that there is this wonderful nirvana of balance between doing something about climate change and wanting to minimise costs of households and businesses is irrational. As Lord Stern has said repeatedly if we do nothing about climate change then the cost of environmental devastation will dwarf the current costs of actually doing something meaningful. As stated in the article we know what we need to do. We have known it for years. What is stopping us?