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IPCC releases comprehensive climate change report: “all we need is the will to change”

World Cement,

The Synthesis Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that the impacts of climate change can ‘remain within a manageable range’ if stringent measures are taken. The Synthesis Report includes the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, a comprehensive assessment of climate change that has drawn on the knowledge and work of more than 800 scientists over the last 13 months.

The Synthesis Report indicates that climate change will ‘increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems’ if actions to mitigate it are not implemented. As R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, notes: “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.”

Less developed countries and vulnerable communities are identified as those who are most at risk from the consequences of climate change, as they are less likely to have the resources required to deal with the challenges it will bring.

The report emphasises the importance of collaboration and adaptation in curbing 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,” says Pachauri. Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, adds:

“Adaptation can play a key role in decreasing these risks. Adaptation is so important because it can be integrated with the pursuit of development, and can help prepare for the risks to which we are already committed by past emissions and existing infrastructure.”

However, the report stresses that adaptation alone will not be enough – GHG emissions must be continuously and substantially reduced. According to the IPCC, there are a number of mitigation pathways that can limit warming to the target 2 °C, but additional mitigation should be introduced before 2030 to avoid further challenges.

“The scientific case for prioritising action on climate change is clearer than ever,” asserts Pachauri. “We have little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2 °C of warming closes. To keep a good chance of staying below 2 °C, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70% globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100. We have that opportunity, and the choice is in our hands.”

The Synthesis Report has also found that global economic growth will not be strongly affected by mitigation measures. Consumption is projected to grow by 1.6% – 3% pa over the 21st century in ‘business-as-usual scenarios’. According to the report, ambitious mitigation would only lower growth by around 0.06 percentage points.

“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy,” says Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. “But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change. Compared to the imminent risk of irreversible climate change impacts, the risks of mitigation are manageable.”

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