ipcc report and international reaction

Chelsea Phipps, NRDC Action Fund and Global Strategy & Advocacy Program Assistant, Washington, D.C.

A recent report by the world’s leading scientists has concluded that immediate action is needed globally if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But with a global agreement on climate change not expected until 2015, we can’t afford to wait. We need to act now, agree later.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – made up of hundreds of the world’s leading scientists – published the third installment of its report on the causes, impacts and mitigation options of climate change. The report reads as a dire warning against inaction:

Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-tem emissions levels and narrow the range of options consistent with maintaining temperature change below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.

Despite policy efforts to reduce climate change, global emissions of greenhouse gases have still risen to unprecedented levels. There is now growing recognition that action cannot wait on global agreements – we need commitments to climate action now by all leaders in global society.

Even strengthening and fully implementing current national pledges will only bring the world half way to the emission reductions needed by 2020. The other half of the gap can be bridged by bold new, expanded, and accelerated commitments to action not only from national governments, but also from cities, states, companies, and civil society organizations. .

Many other leaders shared the call for action now in response to the latest IPCC report, including:

  • “Read this report and you can't deny the reality: Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice. There are those who say we can’t afford to act. But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic…. No single country causes climate change, and no one country can stop it. But we need to match the urgency of our response with the scale of the science…. The clock is ticking. The more we delay, the greater the threat. Let's make our political system wake up and let's make the world respond.” Statement from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
  • "More knowledge is always good, more action would be even better. When the alarm goes off, many just hit the snooze button. This does not work anymore when it comes to climate. It's time to wake up and bring action to the scale needed. Europe is preparing an ambitious reduction target for 2030 to be adopted later this year. I appeal to all major emitters to do the same urgently. It's time to get serious."  – EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard
  • “…here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward…. We cannot afford to lose another decade.” – The New York Times Editorial Board
  • “The longer we delay the higher would be the cost,” – IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri to The Associated Press
  •  “World leaders can take decisive actions, like limiting power plant emissions in the United States to capping coal use in China. In the lead up to the UN climate summit in September, government officials can announce concrete steps to shape a low-carbon future. Governments can deliver strong commitments that will lead to an ambitious, universal climate agreement by 2015.” – Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute