IPCC: cut emissions rapidly or face "severe….irreversible" impacts.

Guardian: “Climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the natural world unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly, according to the most important assessment of global warming yet published.”
“The stark report states that climate change has already increased the risk of severe heatwaves and other extreme weather and warns of worse to come, including food shortages and violent conflicts. But it also found that ways to avoid dangerous global warming are both available and affordable.
“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attending what he described as the “historic” report launch. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” He said that quick, decisive action would build a better and sustainable future, while inaction would be costly.
Ban added a message to investors, such as pension fund managers: “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and [move] to renewable energy.”
The report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the work of thousands of scientists and was agreed after negotiations by the world’s governments. It is the first IPCC report since 2007 to bring together all aspects of tackling climate change and for the first time states: that it is economically affordable; that carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to zero; and that global poverty can only be reduced by halting global warming. The report also makes clear that carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling.
The report comes at a critical time for international action on climate change, with the deadline for a global deal just over a year away. In September, 120 national leaders met at the UN in New York to address climate change, while hundreds of thousands of marchers around the world demanded action.
“We have the means to limit climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change.”
….Ed Davey, the UK energy and climate change secretary, said: “This is the most comprehensive and robust assessment ever produced. It sends a clear message: we must act on climate change now. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said: “This is another canary in the coal mine. We can’t prevent a large scale disaster if we don’t heed this kind of hard science.”
Bill McKibben, a high-profile climate campaigner with 350.org, said: “For scientists, conservative by nature, to use ‘serious, pervasive, and irreversible’ to describe the effects of climate falls just short of announcing that climate change will produce a zombie apocalypse plus random beheadings plus Ebola.” Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry would not be easy, McKibben said. “But, thanks to the IPCC, no one will ever be able to say they weren’t warned.”
The new overarching IPCC report builds on previous reports on thescienceimpacts and solutions for climate change. It concludes that global warming is “unequivocal”, that humanity’s role in causing it is “clear” and that many effects will last for hundreds to thousands of years even if the planet’s rising temperature is halted.
In terms of impacts, such as heatwaves and extreme rain storms causing floods, the report concludes that the effects are already being felt: “In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.”
Droughts, coastal storm surges from the rising oceans and wildlife extinctions on land and in the seas will all worsen unless emissions are cut, the report states. This will have knock-on effects, according to the IPCC: “Climate change is projected to undermine food security.” The report also found the risk of wars could increase: “Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”
Two-thirds of all the emissions permissible if dangerous climate change is to be avoided have already been pumped into the atmosphere, the IPPC found. The lowest cost route to stopping dangerous warming would be for emissions to peak by 2020 – an extremely challenging goal – and then fall to zero later this century.
The report calculates that to prevent dangerous climate change,investment in low-carbon electricity and energy efficiency will have to rise by several hundred billion dollars a year before 2030. But it also found that delaying significant emission cuts to 2030 puts up the cost of reducing carbon dioxide by almost 50%, partly because dirty power stations would have to be closed early. “If you wait, you also have to do more difficult and expensive things,” said Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and an IPCC working group vice-chair.
Tackling climate change need only trim economic growth rates by a tiny fraction, the IPCC states, and may actually improve growth by providing other benefits, such as cutting health-damaging air pollution.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the nascent technology which aims to bury CO2 underground – is deemed extremely important by the IPPC. It estimates that the cost of the big emissions cuts required would more than double without CCS. Pachauri said: “With CCS it is entirely possible for fossil fuels to continue to be used on a large scale.”
The focus on CCS is not because the technology has advanced a great deal in recent years, said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and vice-chair of the IPCC, but because emissions have continued to increase so quickly. “We have emitted so much more, so we have to clean up more later”, he said.
Linking CCS to the burning of wood and other plant fuels would reduce atmospheric CO2 levels because the carbon they contain is sucked from the air as they grow. But van Ypersele said the IPCC report also states “very honestly and fairly” that there are risks to this approach, such as conflicts with food security.
In contrast to the importance the IPCC gives to CCS, abandoning nuclear power or deploying only limited wind or solar power increases the cost of emission cuts by just 6-7%. The report also states that behavioural changes, such as dietary changes that could involve eating less meat, can have a role in cutting emissions.
As part of setting out how the world’s nations can cut emissions effectively, the IPCC report gives prominence to ethical considerations. “[Carbon emission cuts] and adaptation raise issues of equity, justice, and fairness,” says the report. “The evidence suggests that outcomes seen as equitable can lead to more effective [international] cooperation.”
Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said the much greater certainty expressed in the new IPCC report would give international climate talks a better chance than those which failed in 2009. “Ignorance can no longer be an excuse for no action,” he said.
Observers played down the moves made by some countries with large fossil fuel reserves to weaken the language of the draft IPCC report written by scientists and seen by the Guardian, saying the final report was conservative but strong.
However, the statement that “climate change is expected to lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, including greater likelihood of death” was deleted in the final report, along with criticism that politicians sometimes “engage in short-term thinking and are biased toward the status quo”.
Guardian: IPCC report: six graphs that show how we’re changing the world’s climate
….it is a megamix of three major reports that have already been published over the course of the last 13 months –one on the physical science of climate changeone on its impacts on ecosystems, our food supply and how we adapt, and one on the solutions, i.e. cutting emissions from our power plants, factories, cars and farms.
A draft of the synthesis report, seen by the Guardian, shows it will repeat the message that there’s no doubt over our role in global warming: “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history,” it says.
It doesn’t mince words on the repercussions: “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”
But there is cause for hope if governments take action, it will suggest: “Measures exist to achieve the substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades necessary to limit likely warming to 2C”. A rise of 2C is the ‘safe’ level governments have agreed to hold temperatures to.
Here are the six graphs that are at the core of the evidence collected by the IPCC on climate change and its effects:
This map, from the report, shows how much hotter we’ve already made the world since 1901. It’s a handy reminder that the warming we’ve had so far isn’t evenly spread – the tropics and higher latitudes have got hotter faster than other regions:
Observed temperature rises globally
Map of the observed surface temperature change, from 1901 to 2012, derived from temperature trends determined by linear regression from one data set Photograph: IPCC
Here’s the same thing, seen another way – it shows how much temperatures have been above or below the late 20th-century average. The top one is for each year, and the bottom for each decade. Records show 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred this century.
Average global temperatures – IPCC
Observed global mean combined land and ocean surface temperature anomalies, from 1850 to 2012 from three data sets. Top panel: annual mean values. Bottom panel: decadal mean values including the estimate of uncertainty for one dataset (black). Anomalies are relative to the mean of 1961−1990 Photograph: Average global temperatures – IPCC
And here’s how much hotter the scientists say the planet is projected to get. The map on the left shows most places will get another degree or so of warming on top of the 0.7C we’ve already experienced globally since pre-industrial times. Unfortunately, that map assumes we’re going to dramatically cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and the map on the right is what we’re on track for given the record-breaking rate at which we’re all pumping out emissions now.
If you’re thinking a 5C rise by 2100 doesn’t sound like much, it’s worth considering that the global average temperature in the last ice age was only 4-5C colder than today:
Projections for increase in average temperatures in 2081– 2100, above late twentieth century average temperatureProjections for increase in average temperatures in 2081– 2100, above late 20th-century average temperature Photograph: IPCC
Here’s what the temperature rises we’ve seen have already done to sea level rise (as glaciers melts and water expands as it gets warmer). A few millimetres globally might not look like much but it is if you take the long view. The draft report says: “The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia.”
Sea level rise - IPCC data
Global mean sea level, relative to the 1900–1905 mean of the longest running dataset. There are four datasets, each marked by a different colour. Photograph: IPCC
And here’s what a warming world is doing to sea ice in the Arctic, which some scientists are now linking to the more severe winters Europe and northern Asia has experienced in recent years:
Arctic sea ice extent
Extent of Arctic July-August-September (summer) average sea ice Photograph: IPCC
And here’s why this is all happening. We’re spitting out more emissions that ever before, and it’s getting worse. Over the past decade emissions grew at twice the rate of the previous 30 years.
Annual global greenhouse gas emissions
Annual global greenhouse gas emissions Photograph: IPCC