UN Report on Climate Change

A recent study determined that humans are causing irreversible damage to the planet from burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately not everyone is thoroughly convinced that there is a high risk of widespread harm from rising global temperatures. This risk could explain recent floods, droughts, and extinction of species and ocean acidification. If carbon emissions continue to increase, these phenomenons will increase in frequency. If humans can cut emissions quickly, we may be able to avoid such occurrences and maintain the health of our planet.

“We must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly disruptive outcomes, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon told reporters in Copenhagen. He continued, “If we continue business as-usual, our opportunity to keep temperature rises below the target of 2 degrees Celsius will slip away within the next decades.”

This report of the study is intended to guide policy makers around the world to take the climate change into account when writing laws and regulations. We need to protect our nation. Currently 195 nations are working on an international agreement to decrease emission output. The goal is to reach an agreement by December of 2015. Another goal is to get to zero emissions by the end of the century, the estimated target number that could keep global warming below dangerous levels. Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Institute, believes that “this requires a huge transformation, but it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice economic growth.”

Five years of unpaid work by scientists resulted in this report. These scientists have filtered through research in all areas of global warming and comprised one document summarizing the most important findings. The panel previously won a Nobel prize for their work carried out in 2007. Now they are even more certain of the dangers of global warming.

“Continue emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks,” it says in the report.

Delegates from 120 nations went through the report in effort to make sure it would be easy to understand. Sometimes the words in scientific findings can be a bit difficult to interpret. Countries have been commenting on a draft of the text. The study aimed to link three earlier reports by the panel.

Youba Sokona, one of the authors of the report said, “It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy. What is lacking is appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.”

Certain major companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell Pic claim they do not see a danger of their assets loosing a need in response to regulations aimed to prevent climate change. Emissions-reduction measures would cut out 0.06% points off annual economic growth this century. Reduced climate change would also increase human health and standard of living. Some other findings the panel came up with include:

  • Manmade greenhouse gas emissions have pushed atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide to levels ‘unprecedented’ in the past 800,000 years.
  • In order to cap the level of warming at 2 degrees Celsius since the 1800 requires no more than 2,900 billion tons of carbon dioxide. We have already emitted two thirds of that as of 2011.
  • The global average sea level has risen by 19 centimeters since 1901. It is likely to continue to rise.
  • The global average temperature has risen by 0.85 of a degree Celsius since 1880. It is predicted to gain 0.3 degrees to 4.8 degrees this century.

As climate change accelerates, we experience economic damage as well. Increase in temperature above pre-industrial temperatures cuts economic output. It’s predicted that an increase of 2.5 degrees would cut economic output by about 2%.

The internationally agreed target is a global temperature raise of 2 degrees. Future scenarios with this temperature raise indicate there would be a quadruple of zero-carbon technologies in energy supply. Such energy supplies include wind and solar power, nuclear reactors and fossil fuels equipped with carbon capture.

Samantha Smith, leader of the climate program at environmental group WWF, claims cost reductions and performance improvements in renewables enable governments to decarbonize their economies at a price that is lower than ever.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the report sends a strong, important message. More debate utilizes more resources and only prolongs us fixing anything. “Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids,” John Kerry remarked in an e-mail.

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