The United Nation’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the third volume of its 5th Assessment Report on Climate Change: Mitigation of Climate Change in Berlin, Germany on 12 April 2014. The report was finalised after a six day meeting attended by delegates from over 100 countries and a number of the Report’s expert authors.
This third report looks at how to address the issues and risks identified in the first two reports by reducing those activities that contribute to human-induced climate change. It looks at current greenhouse gas emissions, the levels they will need to fall to in future, and how this can be achieved. The report recognises that climate change is a global problem and looks at the contribution all regions can make in tackling the problem.
This is the most significant report on the topic since the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report in 2007. It has been prepared over the last four years by 235 experts from across the world who reached their conclusions by reviewing thousands of published research papers. It has undergone peer review by many other scientists, experts and by IPCC member governments. The thoroughness of the process is without parallel in terms of scope, rigour, transparency and level of government engagement.
The key findings of the report are:
- Greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, and the rate of increase has itself been increasing – most of this increase is being driven by increasing global prosperity.
- On a business-as-usual pathway, global mean temperatures will increase by 3 to 5 degrees over pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
- Staying under the 2 degree limit is possible but increasingly difficult – it will require a wide range of changes, including changes in technology, institutions and behaviours.
- Efforts to reduce emissions needs to take place across all sectors (e.g. energy, transport, agriculture) and all regions – reductions in demand for energy (through, for example, energy efficiency measures) can play a big part.
- Many countries already have policies in place to reduce emissions, but much more needs to be done – investment in clean technology needs to be massively scaled-up and mitigation policies need to be integrated into broader political considerations, such as growth, jobs and the environment.
- Dealing with climate change needs international action and international cooperation to solve the problem.
The “Working Group 2, Fifth Assessment Report
The “Working Group 2, Fifth Assessment Report” covers the likely impacts of climate change and our capacity to adapt to future climate risks. From the last major review of almost six years ago, it provides a strengthened body of evidence on observed impacts and future risks of climate change.
The report is the work of over 310 scientific experts drawn from universities and research institutes in 73 different countries around the world.
Although the IPCC didn’t focus on individual countries, the ‘impacts, vulnerability and adaptation’ report did identify three key risks from climate change for Europe:
Increased economic losses and more people affected by flooding in river basins and coasts, as urbanisation continues, sea levels rise and peak river flows increase;
Increased water restrictions. Significant reduction in water availability from river abstraction and from groundwater resources combined with increased water demand (eg for irrigation, energy and industry and domestic use);
Increased economic losses and people affected by extreme heat events: impacts on health and well-being, labour productivity, crop production and air quality
The UK will also be impacted by global issues such as rising food prices. High levels of adaptation can significantly reduce but not remove these risks.
In response to the report, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey said:
“The science has spoken. Left unchecked, climate change will have far reaching consequences for our society.
“The UK is leading from the front and working with our European partners. We’ve adopted some of the most ambitious climate change targets and are investing in low carbon and energy efficiency technologies.
“This evidence builds the case for early action in the UK and around the world to lessen the risks posed by climate change. We cannot afford to wait.”
A short film by Working Group 2 documents the making of the report:
Working Group 2 report
The “Working Group 1, Fifth Assessment Report
The UN’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first volume of its 5th Assessment Report on The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change in Stockholm on 27 September 2013. The report was finalised after a four day meeting attended by delegates from 110 countries and involving a number of the Report’s leading scientific authors. The UK was represented by officials from DECC and 11 leading authors from the UK.