The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released the last installment of the Fifth Assessment Report or AR5, the most comprehensive assessment of climate change, distilling and integrating the findings by over 800 scientists and released in the last 13 months.
According to the IPCC press release of 31 October, among the key findings in Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report is that “human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed on all continents. If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. However, options are available to adapt to climate change and implementing stringent mitigation activities can ensure that the impacts of climate change remain within a manageable range.”
The Synthesis Report confirms that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal and expresses with greater certainty that greenhouse gas emissions and other anthropogenic drivers are the dominant causes of observed warming since the mid-20th century. The report also stresses that least developed countries and vulnerable communities are particularly challenged, given their limited ability to cope. And many of those most vulnerable to climate change contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions.
While adaptation can play a key role in decreasing the risks and is important in integrating with the pursuit of development, this is not enough. Substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change. Mitigation reduces the rate and magnitude of warming, and also increases the time available for adaptation.
RK Pachauri, IPCC Chair said, “the scientific case for prioritizing action on climate change is clearer than ever. We have little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2 degrees C of warming closes. To keep a good chance of staying below 2 degrees C, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100. We have that opportunity, and the choice is in our hands.”
He assured that “we have the means to limit climate change. The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change. Addressing climate change will not be possible if individual agents advance their own interests independently; it can only be achieved through cooperative responses, including international cooperation.”