Global Climate Change: The FACTS

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Just to remind you all of where we are regarding the science of global climate change, I have selected a few rather depressing facts, ironically all taken from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which uses the International Panel on Climate Change as its source:

 

Climate change is already happening, is unequivocal and this change can now be firmly attributed to human activity.

 

Between 1970 and 2004, emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs and SF6, the greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, have increased by 70% (24% since 1990). CO2, being by far the largest source, has grown by about 80% (28% since 1990). This has occurred because increases in income per capita and population have outweighed decreases in energy intensity of production and consumption.

 

Without additional policies, global GHG emissions are projected to increase 25-90% by 2030 relative to 2000. Fossil fuel dominance is expected to continue to 2030 and beyond, hence CO2 emissions from energy use are projected to grow 40-110% over that period. Two thirds to three quarters of this increase is projected to come from developing countries, though their average per capita CO2 emissions will remain substantially lower than those in developed country regions. Since 2000, carbon intensity of energy has been on the rise due to increased use of coal.

 

Overview of CO2 concentration level, corresponding temperature increases and year that

concentrations would need to peak to maintain specific concentration levels.

 

CO2 concentration in ppm

(pre-industrial levels at 278

ppm; current levels at 380

ppm)

 

Global mean temperature

increase in C above preindustrial

levels

 

Peaking year of CO2

 

350 – 400

2.0 -2.4

2000 – 2015

400 – 440

2.4 – 2.8

2000 – 2020

440 – 485

2.8 – 3.2

2010 – 2030

485 – 570

3.2 – 40

2020 – 2060

570 – 660

4.0 – 4.9

2050 – 2080

 

 

The world faces an average temperature rise of at least 3°C this century if greenhouse gas

emissions continue to rise at their current pace and are allowed to double from their pre-industrial

level. Extinction among 20-30% of plant and animal species is likely if the global

temperature increase exceeds 1.5 – 2.5 °C.

 

In Africa, there’ll be increased water shortages (up to 250 million people in Africa at increased risk of water stress in 2020), reductions in the area suitable for agriculture and sea-level rise and consequent threats to cities. By mid-century, annual average river runoff and water availability are projected to increase by 10-40% at high latitudes and in some wet tropical areas, and decrease by 10-30% over some dry regions at mid-latitudes and in the dry tropics, some of which are presently water stressed areas. In tropical areas, crop yield is projected to decrease, even with relatively modest rises of 1- 2 °C in local temperature, increasing the risk of hunger.

 

In the Asian megadeltas, such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra and the Zhujiang, large populations will endure high exposure to sea-level rise, storm surge and river flooding.

 

Projected changes to the climate will affect the health of millions of people worldwide. The

changes will be most felt by those least able to adapt, such as the poor, the very young and the

elderly.

 

The consequences of inaction a far too great. But I wouldn’t bet on parties to the UNFCCC safeguarding our future. We urgently need stronger, more coherent social movements to demand a fair deal. We need action now!

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