Time Running Out for Climate Change Action, Warns IPCC

In its second major report since 2007, the U.N. panel's report was not all bad news. It noted that while nations may be slow to agree to climate treaties, city and state governments have written their own climate plans along with the private sector.
April 15, 2014, 6am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unveiled its Fifth Assessment Report entitled, "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change" in Berlin on April 13. The bad news: It "found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever," writes Justin Gillis. But do not lose hope.

Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.

However, they warn that "only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found," writes Gillis.

The goal, writes NPR's science desk correspondent, Nell Greenfieldboyce, is to meet "an international target to control climate change: keeping the global temperature rise to just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — that's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit." [Listen here].

In what may be a first for the IPCC, it acknowledged geo-engineering solutions that extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Greefieldboyce states that these options "could possibly manipulate the atmosphere and artificially cool the planet."

"It's controversial among environmental advocates, it's controversial among scientists, and it's certainly controversial among governments," says Harvard University's Robert Stavins, an economist and expert on climate agreements who worked on the report. "But research is clearly needed."

In advance of the report's release, Julia Pyper and ClimateWire wrote in Scientific American of the importance of stemming the growth of greenhouse gases from transportation. The "IPCC (a)uthors project with high confidence that continued growth in emissions from global passenger and freight activity could 'outweigh future mitigation measures'."

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Published on Monday, April 14, 2014 in The New York Times - Environment
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