The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) salutes the imminent release of the Summary for Policymakers, the culmination of five years of work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate change. The Summary for Policymakers, expected to be unveiled on Sunday, November 2, 2014, is a synthesis of three IPCC reports released over the past year, which covered the science of climate change, our vulnerability to it, and what options are available to mitigate it.
“The IPCC reports are a clear, compelling case for immediate climate action,” says EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. “In a nutshell, they confirm that climate change is already causing damage and that it will only get worse unless we act now. The good news is, it’s not too late to act to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. I think the most important take-away from the IPCC’s work is that climate action makes good economic sense. Becoming sustainable and preventing disasters is good for business, good for economic growth, and good for the well-being of our people and communities!”
The reports, drafted by 830 authors and 1,200 contributors—and evaluated by 3,700 expert reviewers—leave no room for doubt: climate change is happening, and it is caused by humans. Unless we change our ways rapidly, average global temperatures will rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels, with potentially devastating results. The effects of climate change are already making themselves felt—the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy this past week is a grim reminder of what rising sea levels and more extreme weather can lead to.
The Summary for Policymakers should not make for a depressing read, however. Instead, it is expected to focus on the fact that action is still possible, that it won’t be excessively costly, and that it will indeed likely create the conditions for strong economic growth. Many of the actions we need to take to address climate change have a whole host of ancillary benefits, in particular when it comes to public health and the long-term sustainability of our economies.
On October 24, the European Union led by example, agreeing on an ambitious, binding target for its greenhouse gas emissions. The 28 member countries agreed to cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and to source a minimum of 27 percent of their energy from renewable power generation. “With major UN climate negotiations just a year away [the U.N. Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris starting November 2015], now is the time for nations to show their determination and commitment to address climate change,” said Werner.