The New Zealand Climate Change Centre has issued a media statement prompted by the Synthesis Report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months.
Among the key conclusions:
Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed on all continents. If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
But many options are available to adapt to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the risks from climate change remain manageable, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.
The Synthesis Report says it is 95 per cent certain that emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century, and recent climate changes (regardless of their cause) have already had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society and the natural world, the report finds.
The Synthesis Report makes a clear case that challenges are particularly large for least developed countries and vulnerable communities, including marginalized people within countries, given their more limited ability to cope.
The report finds that adapting to climate change can play a key role in addressing these risks, but there are limits to its effectiveness, especially with greater magnitudes and rates of climate change. Substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change.
Authors of the report met with government representatives in Copenhagen late last month to finalise the “Summary for Policymakers” of the report.
Two climate scientists associated with the New Zealand Climate Change Centre participated in the meeting. Dr Andy Reisinger, Deputy Director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre was a member of the core writing team for the draft report, and Dr David Wratt of NIWA and Victoria University attended as a member of the IPCC Bureau.