IPCC: ‘Unequivocal’ global warming must be stopped

Cows in a factory farm

An influential panel of climate experts has warned that global warming is “unequivocal” and underlined the urgency of averting temperature rises that could lead to catastrophic changes in the environment.

Announcing the results of its most recent six-yearly research on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report stated that it was “extremely likely” that rising temperatures across the world are the result of human activity.

“Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Thomas Stocker, the co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group I.

In 2006 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that livestock production is responsible for up to 18 per cent of global emissions. A new FAO study puts the figure at 14.5% and outlines ways the livestock industry could reduce this figure further by increasing efficiency and reducing waste. Other scientists have used different calculation methods and suggest that emissions from animals may be greater. Bottom line: with livestock production rapidly increasing (the FAO predicts a 70 per cent increase by 2050), eating less meat is an instant and easy way to have a positive environmental impact.

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said the IPCC’s report should be viewed as “yet another wake-up call.”

Thomas Stocker noted that global surface temperatures by the end of this century are predicted to be 1.5ºC-2ºC higher than in the period 1850-1900. As a result, wet regions would become wetter and drier regions more dry.

Such a temperature rise could lead to sea levels at the beginning of next century being 26-82 cm higher than today.

Making it clear that “limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” the IPCC report – which collates independent, peer-reviewed scientific literature – is another nail in the coffin for climate deniers.

Energy secretary Edward Davey said:  “We’ve got to stop debating this issue as if we’re members of the Flat Earth Society and get on and act”, adding that the UK Government needed to “redouble [its] efforts” to promote green energy.

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