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The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming

Newsletter Posts

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming

Robin Schachat

In February of this year at the GCA NAL meeting, along with Conservation and NAL representatives from national committees and clubs, Cynthia Druckenbrod and I heard a vast number of reports about Climate Change issues.  The scientific findings we heard were not presented by partisan organizations, although we did subsequently hear from both Republican and Democrat Senators, Congresspersons, and Members of the Cabinet.  The scientific findings presented track quite closely with those that have been presented early in October in the Special Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is defined as follows:

            The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. In the same year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.
The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research, nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
As an intergovernmental body, membership of the IPCC is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO. Currently
195 countries are Members of the IPCC. Governments participate in the review process and the Plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau Members, including the Chair, are also elected during the Plenary Sessions.
Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. IPCC aims to reflect a range of views and expertise. The
Secretariat coordinates all the IPCC work and liaises with Governments. It is established by WMO and UNEP and located at WMO headquarters in Geneva. The IPCC is administered in accordance to WMO and UN rules and procedures, including codes of conduct and ethical principles (as outlined in UN Ethics, WMO Ethics Function, Staff Regulations and 2012/07-Retaliation).

Because of its scientific and intergovernmental nature, the IPCC embodies a unique opportunity to provide rigorous and balanced scientific information to decision makers. By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive.

Despite political spin from almost every side, this evidence-based, fact-driven report is dire. We present it to you here, so that you may come to your own conclusions. In short, the report shows that the earth’s climate is undergoing speedy and substantial change that is fast approaching being irreversible.  If humans do not make massive changes in our behavior within the next 12 years, the odds are against humankind surviving this century.  Here is a most basic summary:

Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040….“It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime,” said Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report.

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.

I anticipate GCA’s reports on aspects of Climate Change, accompanying the Position Paper on Climate Change posted on the NAL Committee page, are undergoing substantial revision right now as a result of this report.  As ever, the GCA positions are entirely nonpartisan.  We will keep you posted on changes.

For now, we present to you the Special Report itself (1), as well as a few commentaries.  One of these is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Environmental Impact Report addressing air quality (2), published this summer.  Please note that the White House has accepted and formally approved both the NHTSA statement (which runs counter to the current government policy) and the IPCC Report itself – that is to say, our government has accepted these findings as fact, although their publicly stated comments suggest that they do not.

We also present an essay from the Mom’s Clean Air Force (3).  Cynthia and I heard from Dominique Browning, their Director, at the NAL meeting this past winter also.  This essay lays out a succinct list of human changes that must be undertaken in short order to counter the expectations laid out by the IPCC Report.  This lobbying group is nonpartisan as a general rule, but queries the US’s ability to lead internationally under the current administration.  That comment is not important and no one need care about it unless she or he chooses to.  What is important is the list of what needs to be done.




Robin Schachat, SLGC Co-Chair
Conservation/National Affairs and Legislation


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