Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Listen to the science on climate change, IPCC head urges governments

Published:Thursday | December 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Hoesung Lee, IPCC chair
Students perform a dramatic piece geared at bringing attention to climate change during the recent IPCC outreach event.
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HEAD OF the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Hoesung Lee has urged attention and focus on the science and not politics in decision-making about climate change.

"One common question (at the Marrakech climate talks held recently in Morocco) was whether political developments in some countries could hinder the global community in providing a science-based response to climate change. My view, the scientists' view, is that values and political beliefs may vary, but science is the common ground where these conflicting views can find a common understanding," he said.

Lee was speaking in Jamaica recently where the IPCC the international body that assesses the science related to climate change held its most recent outreach event for the region and which formed a part of Climate Change Awareness Week celebrations on the island.

His comments come even as the world waits to see what the new United States (US) President and climate sceptic, Donald Trump, will do.

The US, up to now, has been one of the more significant contributors to the work of the IPCC, for example, and has done much to bolster global adaptation and mitigation efforts.

 

Urgent action

 

According to Lee, the science has so far revealed the need for urgent action on climate change.

"Responding to climate change is not an either/or choice for a country, it's part of its development strategy. You all know that," he said, while referencing the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

The synthesis report of the AR5 points, among other things, to ongoing and exacerbated warming of the planet due to human actions.

"Emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78 per cent of the total GHG emissions increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the increase during the period 2000 to 2010," reads a section of the report.

"Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion," it added.

 

Population growth

 

"The contribution of population growth between 2000 and 2010 remained roughly identical to the previous three decades while the contribution of economic growth has risen sharply," the document said further.

In the wake of those findings, the IPCC and its team of scientists from across the globe, is to contribute more to the existing body of knowledge on the subject.

Among other things, they are to prepare a special report on the impacts of warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and related emissions pathways.

"Earlier this year, we brought experts together to scope out that report, and we signed off the outline the table of contents and structure in October. We are now recruiting authors to write the report, which will be delivered in 2018," Lee said.

All this, while seeking to make their work more accessible.

"We are looking at how to work with our new authors to encourage them to produce their summaries for policymakers in clear, accessible language for non-specialists, and with academies to help them develop educational materials based on our reports," Lee said to an audience of not only NGOs and policymakers, but also students.

-P.W.R.