WG3’s report published today

The last part of the IPCC’s fifth report on climate change, AR5, is out today.  Here’s how the New York Times captures it:  “Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: 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.”

wg3coverIn WG III’s summary for policymakers, the IPCC makes several key points based on the earlier reports by WG II (on the human and environmental impacts) and WG I (on the physical science):

1. World leaders have dragged their feet since the 1992 signing of the UNFCCC and the 1997 signing of the Kyoto Protocol.

2. This inaction has led to crisis, with GHG emissions rising faster than ever.

3. Yet it is possible to keep planetary warming to a habitable level, if concerted action is taken during the next 15 years.

4. This action is becoming less expensive and more politically feasible, as technologies and policies tried out in individual countries during the past decade become more routine (e.g. wind and solar energy, efficiency standards in building codes and automobile manufacturing).

5. As evidence of growing political will to acknowledge and address climate change, countries, states, and cities around the world have adopted climate planning.  (NYT note: “They include China and the United States, which are doing more domestically than they have been willing to commit to in international treaty negotiations.”

6. To meet climate targets, annual investment in electrical power plants that use fossil fuels must decline by about 20% in the next 20 years while investment in low-carbon energy will need to double from current levels.

7. Money spent now to mitigate and adapt to climate change is the best insurance against severe climate impacts.