Pakistani experts endorse IPCC climate change report

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Sep 29, 2013.

Islamabad – Pakistani experts have supported the announcement by world’s leading climate scientists that global warming is “unequivocal” and humans are “extremely likely” to blame for it.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body that provides scientific reports on the risk of climate change, released the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report in Stockholm, Sweden, on Friday after days of consideration.

The assessment concluded that the “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” indicating there was no longer any doubt that climate change is happening.

The report, prepared by over 200 scientists, also blamed human actions, which have led to greenhouse gas emissions, for the planet’s warming.

“One of the 18 key messages that the 110 governments that were present in this room for four days have adopted in consensus: Human influence on the climate system is clear,” said Professor Thomas Stocker, a co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group-I.

The report further read, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

The Working Group-I focused on the physical science basis of climate change. Two other working groups are expected to submit their reports over the next few months, before a Synthesis Report is launched in November 2014.

“I think the report shows there is no doubt climate change is happening,” Dr Mohsin Iqbal, the head of Agriculture and Coordination section at Pakistan’s Global Climate Impact Study Centre said. “It is real.”

Iqbal, who is himself a lead author for a section of the IPCC’s Working Group II report, said the extreme weather events and unpredictable weather patterns in Pakistan are also visible indications of climate change.

He said food security, water and the energy sector are three areas climate change would impact in Pakistan in the future. Iqbal said the National Climate Change Policy, which was approved in February, has recommendations to combat these threats.

A national plan of action is being prepared for the policy’s implementation, he said, which must be completed as soon as possible.

Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, a senior climate expert who is now the Deputy Regional Director Asia for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), said “the IPCC is the most authoritative intergovernmental scientific body on climate change.”

Chaudhry supported the Fifth Assessment Report’s findings and said, “the consistency of observed and modeled changes across the climate system, including regional temperatures and the water cycle point to global climate change resulting primarily from anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

In its report, the IPCC said each of the last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface. At the press conference in Stockholm, Stocker said that in order to hold global rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, total emissions cannot emit more than 1,000 gigatons of Carbondioxide. But he also added that 54 per cent of that target has already been emitted.

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