UN panel to study impact of climate change on poor countries
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined to increase understanding of regional effects of warming
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body of scientists drawn from around the world, will use its next assessment due in 2014 to look at how the impact of global warming is falling unequally on the poorest developing countries.
Two hundred key members of the IPCC met in Venice last week to begin scoping out its fifth assessment. Rajendra Pachauri, the body’s chairman, told reporters at the UN building in New York today that the panel was determined to increase its understanding of local and regional impacts of rising temperatures.
There was an awareness, he said, that in Africa in particular there was insufficient scientific and modelling fire-power to be able to predict in any detail what was likely to happen under global warming. “It’s critically important that we create the capacity in Africa to be able to assess the impact of climate change.”
A portion of the money the panel was awarded for the 2007 Nobel peace prize that it shared with Al Gore has been put into a trust specifically to help the least developed countries predict, and thus prepare for, the likely consequences.
Pachauri said the fifth assessment, the first draft of which is scheduled for 2013, would concentrate both on adaptations and mitigations that countries could make as rising temperatures take hold. “Every nation and community in the world will have to adapt [to] whatever happens in Copenhagen.”
Pachauri said he had been heartened by the recent G8 meeting in which the world’s industrialised powers agreed on an aspirational ceiling of 2C temperature rise. But he said that in that case they should also have signed up to the IPCC’s conclusion that to contain global temperatures within that limit, emissions of greenhouse gases had to peak in 2015 and decline rapidly thereafter.
“They should have categorically stated that by 2020 they will implement deep cuts in emissions. So there are several gaps that are rather glaring.” He went on to say that “the time has come for the global community to take action. There is frustration about the gap between our knowledge [of climate change] and acting on that knowledge.”
Another area that the IPCC will home in on in its fifth assessment is extreme weather caused by climate change, a topic that has garnered mounting public attention in recent years.