A new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supports the numerous other studies that point out we must act immediately to mitigate man-made climate change before it becomes nearly irreversible. Of particular import, the report noted that the burning of the current reserves of oil, natural gas and coal already identified by national governments and oil companies would lead to widespread droughts, more-violent storms and the melting of polar ice caps.
This key finding, amidst the ongoing discussion of a “carbon budget” for the world, is crucial because it makes clear the relative cost of instituting measures to reduce emissions, although large, is quite small relative to the predicted consequences of doing little or nothing.
The idea of a global carbon budget was emphasized in the report, with the hope that it would come to the forefront of discussions among government officials worldwide. The new study, published on Sunday in Copenhagen includes the research of around 2,000 scientists, making it the most complete investigation into the science of global warming. The report also elaborates on methods for implementing changes to reduce the global carbon burden.
Statement from UN Secretary General
“We must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly disruptive outcomes,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explained to media representatives in Copenhagen. “If we continue business-as-usual, our opportunity to keep temperature rises below” the internationally agreed target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) “will slip away within the next decades.”
Developing a carbon budget
Of note, The International Energy Agency estimated the total value of subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry was around is $544 billion in 2013. For comparison, only in the neighborhood of $343 billion to $385 billion is spent globally on reducing emissions and other climate control measures.
The report offers a global carbon-dioxide emissions budget designed to keep global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution. Moreover, even that level still puts the world on track for the most rapid shift in temperatures since the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago.