Last night in Valencia, the IPCC approved its Fourth Assessment Synthesis report, which sums up the key points from the three major reports published this year on climate change science, its impacts and the mitigation options. It will be the key reference document for policymakers in the coming years. (Should be anyway, unfortunately not all politicians like 'fact based' decision making.)
The IPCC is a pretty careful, conservative body, so there were no big surprises. (Our press release is here.) But the message behind these reports is becoming increasingly blunt. From the New York Times:
Members of the panel said their review of the data led them to conclude as a group and individually that reductions in greenhouse gasses had to start immediately to avert a global climate disaster that could leave island states submerged and abandoned, African crop yields decreased by 50 percent, and cause over a 5 percent decrease in global gross domestic product.
The panel, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month, said the world would have to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avert major problems.
"If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late," said Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment."
He said that since the panel began its work five years ago, scientists have recorded "much stronger trends in climate change,” like a recent melting of polar ice that had not been predicted. "That means you better start with intervention much earlier."
Clear enough for you?