(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
Severe, pervasive and irreversible damage to the world if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t drastically reduced.
It’s a now familiar message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The United Nations agency has just released another report predicting dire consequences if fossil fuels are not phased out by the year 2100.
Greg Dyett reports.
(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)
“Human influence on the climate system is clear. If we want to limit climate change, we need substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
It’s what the UN’s climate change panel has been saying for years: that time is running out to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, and that current trends in carbon emissions herald disaster.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its latest Synthesis Report.
Established in 1988 by the UN’s weather and environment agencies, the IPCC’s job is to give policymakers science-based updates about the greenhouse effect and its impacts.
Its reports are compiled by scientists, economists, public health specialists and other experts.
The panel does not conduct research of its own, but summarises thousands of peer-reviewed and published studies.
Its main work is vast overviews called assessment reports.
The first was published in 1990 and the fifth was completed on Sunday.
That report is warning that emissions of three key greenhouse gases are at their highest in more than 800,000 years.
At its meeting in Copenhagen, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri says the world can and must produce most of its electricity from renewables by 2050.
“Well human influence on the climate system is clear. The more we disrupt our climate the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.”
Among those impacts, the panel says, are migration caused by climate-related economic damage and loss of land from rising seas and storm surges, risk of conflict over scarce resources, and greater water stress.
Chairman Rajendra Pachauri also points to food insecurity, with impacts on wheat, rice and maize harvests and fish catches.
“And with a growing population and higher incomes you can imagine food scarcity and food security and the whole issue of starvation and hunger become very large threats.”
The report says switching to cleaner sources, improving energy efficiency and implementing other emission mitigating measures would be far cheaper than the cost of climate damage.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says action on climate change can contribute to economic prosperity, better health and more liveable cities.”
“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side. Let’s work together to make this world, our only planet Earth, sustainable economically, socially, environmentally for our succeeding generation.”
The Panel hopes its report will inspire the leaders of more than 200 nations who’ll gather in Paris late next year to try to reach agreement for a global climate treaty.
The UN is holding talks in Lima next month to pave the way to a 2015 pact to limit warming to a safer two degrees Celsius.
But the negotiations have been hung up for years over which countries should shoulder the cost for reducing carbon emissions, derived mainly from oil, gas and coal.