UN IPCC Climate Change Negotiations stress immediate action

Crop yields are diminishing
Crop yields are diminishing, especially those of wheat and maize.

Introduction:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authoritative international scientific body on climate science, released the sixth international report on climate change Monday, March 31, 2014. The report essentially confirms that their report in September of 2013 was correct: there is a 95% chance that human activity is causing the warming of the world since 1951. Additionally, the report found that the cost of addressing climate change is quite high: for developing countries alone, the cost is $70-$100 billion per year, respectively.

 What is the IPCC?

The IPCC is a UN body established in 1988 with the aim of analyzing the evolution of weather and publishes its assessments every five to seven years. In a press conference in Yokohama in March, the newest report confirms the risk of threats to unique systems such as the Arctic sea and coral reefs is to increase to “very high”. The report also mentioned that the cost of adapting to climate change and the current and future damage from it, will most likely cost developing countries a substantial loss in GDP- especially those in low lying areas- and could “indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence”.

Report Findings and Recommendations

At this point the IPCC found that enough evidence has been gathered to state that climate change is a reality we are living. “Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, at the press conference.

Although many who were a part of the report-making process objected the need for aggressive and costly measures against climate change, most of those at the table were highly in favor of action. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, even said, “There are those who say we can’t afford to act…but waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

The report’s most important findings include:

  1. The poor will be the ones who suffer the most from climate change.
  2. Changes in precipitation or melting snow and ice are already affecting water resources in terms of quantity and quality.
  3. Crop yields are diminishing, especially those of wheat and maize.
  4. Recent increases in the size and frequency of storms are altering ecosystems, disrupting food production and water supply, damaging infrastructure and settlements.

The report also placed an emphasis on adaptation, recommending the implementation of more emergency shelters for low lying areas that have been and will continue to be the most impacted by climate change in the next decade or so.(Please see Section A of the report for more on adaptation recommendations by the IPCC).

The international community (non-private sector) is on board as long as there is funding for more climate change projects around the globe. It seemed apparent that the need for action was unanimous by all who attended. The question that was left on the table was, ‘who is going to pay for all of this, and how much will it really cost?’ A Private sector organization that works on climate change issues, World Resources Institute, is not only on board but has even created a corporate responsibility guide to engaging in climate policy. However, many entities in the private sector are still skeptical about the total cost of climate change solutions.

Individuals, on the other hand, are making strides around the world to educate others on the harmful effects of climate change and what individuals around the world can do to lessen its impact on the environment. For example, in Dominican Republic, UN CC:Learn has been implementing a project on climate change education that has trained over 400 teachers in ways to teach climate change, among other successes.

Conclusion:

The issue is clear: Climate Change is happening whether we like it or not. As a result, the need for immediate climate action is necessary. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel.

However, the solution is not so clear as many are against the cost of climate change actions and some are not certain that climate change is avoidable or even occurring.

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