UN panel's climate report sparks concern

2013-09-28 10:00


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Stockholm - Scientists, environmentalists and politicians reacted with concern Friday as a UN climate panel warned temperatures could rise by as much as 4.8°C this century due to man's voracious energy consumption.

"Yet another wake-up call," was how US Secretary of State John Kerry described the report by the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which also underlined the peril of heatwaves, drought and floods and warned sea levels could rise by as much as 82cm.

"Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire," Kerry said in a statement.

The strongest scientific consensus yet that human activities drove warming since the 1950s, the report said heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions must be urgently curbed to limit further damage to the climate system.

The UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said the document's release in Stockholm was "an alarm clock moment for the world".

"To steer humanity out of the high danger zone, governments must step up immediate climate action" to meet the UN target of 2.0 C (3.6 F) from pre-Industrial Revolution levels, she said. This is the ceiling at which many experts believe the worst climate fallout can be skirted.

Based on computer models of different emissions trajectories, the report's most optimistic scenario projects average warming of 1.0 C (1.8 F) by 2100 over 2000 levels - ranging from 0.3 to 1.7 C (0.5-3.1 F).

Previous research said global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, constantly scaling new highs, must peak around 2020 and then decline sharply for the lowest warming scenario to be possible. The world emits about 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas every year.

Bleak and hopeless future

The IPCC's worst-case scenario projects average warming this century of 3.7 C (6.7 F) -- ranging from 2.6 C (4.7 F) to 4.8 C (8.6 F).

"Without very strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, we face huge risks from global warming of more than 2.0 C by the end of this century," said British climate economist Nicholas Stern of the report.

Green groups said such levels threatened the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers, would leave millions hungry and exposed to extreme weather events, and risked engulfing entire communities in coastal areas or low-lying small island states.

"If we are to follow what the science says, then we have to stop investing in fossil fuels and increase investment in sustainable, renewable energy," said a statement from seven non-government organisations including WWF, Oxfam, and the International Trade Union Confederation.

"A bleak and hopeless future is not a foregone conclusion, it's a choice," added Greenpeace campaigner Stephanie Tunmore.

The decade ending 2010 had already been the warmest on record, and marked by extreme weather events.

"We ignore these scientific warnings at our own peril," said Andrew Steer, head of the World Resources Institute, a US-based think-tank. "Climate change is here and it's advancing even faster than we realised."

University of Leeds climate professor and report co-author Piers Forster said new data revealed that humankind had been causing 40 percent more warming than was estimated in the IPCC's 2007 report.

"Over much of the world, extreme rainfall will be heavier and occur more often and unless we begin to dramatically change our ways, we could have up to one metre and growing sea-level rise by 2100," he said.

In a video statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the report was "essential" for governments thrashing out an ambitious global deal on curbing greenhouse gas emissions that must be signed by 2015.

"The heat is on. Now we must act," said the UN chief, who will host a summit next September in a bid to bolster commitment.

Read more on:    un  |  ban ki-moon  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.