IIED responds to IPCC climate change report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), issuing the starkest warning yet on the perils of continuing with 'business as usual'.

News, 03 November 2014
Camilla Toulmin: "The IPCC report.. concludes that no parts of the world are free from the risks of 'severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts'" (Photo: Google licence)

Camilla Toulmin: "The IPCC report.. concludes that no parts of the world are free from the risks of 'severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts'" (Photo: Google licence)

The report, published in Copenhagen on 2 November 2014, confirms that there is now extreme certainty that climate change is happening and that all warming since 1951 is due to human activity. 

The AR5 report also confirms that climate change is already impacting all continents and the oceans, resulting in changes that are often unprecedented and could partly be, or soon become, irreversible.

With current warming of .85 degrees C compared to 1880 levels, there are significant impacts of climate change affecting communities worldwide. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, sea levels have risen, and the amounts of snow and ice have diminished. If the world stays on its current path, the picture only becomes bleaker. 

The AR5 report demonstrates that the scientific understanding of future risks has been strengthened in recent years, and that escalating temperatures are expected to slow economic growth and erode food security, which will worsen the world's current social and economic inequalities.

Camilla Toulmin, director of IIED, says: "The IPCC report presents the clearest picture yet of the risks posed by uncontrolled climate change. It concludes that no parts of the world are free from the risks of 'severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts'. The poorest countries, where many people already struggle to make a living, will be affected first.

"In this context, the EU 2030 climate agreement is ever more important in terms of setting the agenda for ambitious and rapid response to global warming caused by carbon emissions.

"While Europe has made a strong start with its commitment to reducing emissions by at least 40 per cent, IIED urges the EU to build on its historic climate leadership next month in Lima, calling on other big players to take clear and decisive action to limit the steeply sharpening global inequality."

Dr Saleemul Huq, IIED senior fellow and director of ICCCAD says: "The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report consists of a set of reports from Working Groups I, II and III followed by the final Synthesis Report that has just been released. The full set of IPCC Fifth Assessment Reports marks a significant enhancement in the level of the alarm bells being raised by the scientific community about the level of climate impacts already being felt around the world and that the window of opportunity to take actions to head off the worst impacts is rapidly closing.

"The IPCC reports are already out of date as more and more scientific evidence accumulates about human induced climate change impacts affecting vulnerable communities. Achieving a legally binding and ambitious global agreement under the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015 is like the last-chance saloon for avoiding truly globally catastrophic impacts."

David Satterthwaite, IIED senior fellow and one of two coordinating lead authors of the chapter on urban areas in the Fifth Assessment Working Group II, adds: "The IPCC's Fifth Assessment fully recognises the potential of urban areas to contribute to adaptation and mitigation. It also recognises how much this depends on competent city and municipal governments that can work with those most at risk, including the billion urban dwellers living in informal settlements.

"In low and middle income countries, this has to address large deficits in risk reducing infrastructure and services. Most of the growth in the world's population in the next two decades will be in urban areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These urban areas can contribute much to avoiding dangerous climate change – or be one of the main reasons for a failure to do so."

Several of IIED's researchers contributed to the report issued by the Fifth Assessment Working Group II, published in March 2014.