Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Rising Crescendo

On the eve of the release of the first part of the Climate Assessment reports, there are intensive discussions arising from those who have felt disenfranchised from the process of international agreement on climate goals and its impacts in previous climate talks.

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is being released in four parts between September 2013 and November 2014. It will be the most comprehensive assessment of scientific knowledge on climate change since 2007 when Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was released. AR5 is made up of the full reports prepared by the Working Groups (I, II and III) and their Summaries for Policymakers (SPM) as well as the Synthesis Report. On September 23 through 26, representatives of the world’s Environment Ministries will meet in Stockholm to agree on the final draft of a key portion of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policymakers. This Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is intended to be used by international ministers working to devise a new global treaty by January 2015 to curb “climate change”. On the eve of its first issuance this coming Friday, there are reports on its leaked contents as well as significant global discussion around its impacts and scale.

Leading up to the The 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November 2013, this series of reports on the state of climate change is already being anticipated at a global level by many groups, in particular on 5 September 2013, the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum adopted the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, stating that climate change is real and is severely impacting their country.

Leaders from 35+ countries gathered for the drafting of a Women's Climate Action Agenda in Suffern, New York September 20-23rd, 2013 as part of the International Women's Earth and Climate Summit. Their consensus is that climate change disproportionately affects women across the globe.

The Guardian reports on climate change: IPCC issues stark warning over global warming, with a call to 'stop dithering about fossil fuel cuts' as expert panel warns entire globe is affected. "We have to face up to the prospect of weaning ourselves off our addiction to oil and coal," said one report author. "It is as simple as that."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is addressing world leaders during the week of Sept. 20 in an effort to move climate change response efforts forward. Meanwhile, scientists are becoming more sure of the impact of human activities on the planet's climate, says Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's climate panel. Moon has made his position clear that it is now time to make the decisions that will address climate change, and that further delay and distraction are no longer acceptable. The session at the table in November will be where the rubber meets the road.

The critical issues with these reports will be the definition of the allowable CO2 emissions in the near future; this will rest upon the determination of science documentation of climate change and its projected impact on planetary life systems. Since science is not an exact benchmark in the real dynamics of nature, the most realistic path will be to negotiate a safe level of GHG's, using the Precautionary Principle as the most likely way of navigating the necessary constraints so as to do no further harm to the planet. Difficult, because it will involve a rapid move off of fossil fuels, but eminently doable.

Update 9/26/13: Last-minute negotiations on the content of the IPCC report in Stockholm  are taking place due to the variability of climate change and the difficulty in establishing cause-and-effect. This demonstrates the necessity of basing emissions policies on precautionary measures.