Friday 30th September 2016                 Change text size:

IPCC’s latest climate change report: the reaction



Photo: Staff Sgt Wayne Gray / DVIDSHUB via Flickr

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued its latest sobering report into climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. It maps out in no uncertain terms how warming temperatures will affect food prices, national security and the environment.

Read the full story here, and see below for all the latest reaction from businesses, investors, thinktanks, politicians and campaigners.

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC

“The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change. Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions.

“None of this would be possible without the dedication of the co-chairs of Working Group II and the hundreds of scientists and experts who volunteered their time to produce this report, as well as the more than 1,700 expert reviewers worldwide who contributed their invaluable oversight.

“The IPCC’s reports are some of the most ambitious scientific undertakings in human history, and I am humbled by and grateful for the contributions of everyone who make them possible.”

Vicente Barros, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group II

“We live in an era of manmade climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate -related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme

“The latest science cited by the IPCC assessment provides conclusive scientific evidence that human activities are causing unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate. It is time to take immediate and robust action to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The clock is ticking and time is not on our side.

“As recent studies show, greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would induce changes in the oceans, ice caps, glaciers, the biosphere and other components of the climate system. Some of these changes would very likely be unprecedented over decades to thousands of years. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“Climate change is a long-term challenge but one that requires urgent action today, given the risks of a more than 2C temperature rise. For those who want to focus on the scientific question marks, that is their right to do so. But today, we need to focus on the fundamentals and on actions. Otherwise the risks we run will get higher with every passing day.”

Ed Davey MP, energy and climate change secretary

“The science has spoken. Left unchecked, climate change will have far reaching consequences for our society.

“The UK is leading from the front and working with our European partners. We’ve adopted some of the most ambitious climate change targets and are investing in low-carbon and energy efficiency technologies.

“This evidence builds the case for early action in the UK and around the world to lessen the risks posed by climate change. We cannot afford to wait.”

Sven Harmeling, climate change advocacy co-ordinator at CARE International

“The IPCC’s latest report is a study in the sheer injustice of climate change. The world’s poorest people have done the least to cause the climate problem, yet today we have stark new scientific evidence that they are already, and will increasingly, bear the brunt of its impacts.

“From more extreme and intense weather-related disasters, to reduced food security, to rising sea-levels, climate change is fast becoming a scandal of epic proportions for the world’s poorest people – and it’s unfolding right before our eyes.

“But overcoming climate poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Climate change is manmade and it can be contained by the actions of human beings. This task falls to the current generation of leaders, and to us all. There is not a moment to lose.”

Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group

“The latest report from the IPCC makes for sobering reading. From Asia’s most dynamic and growing cities to Arctic shipping lanes, the effects of climate change will leave no nation untouched and have profound impacts on the global economy.

“The IPCC report needs to act as a wake-up call. The ‘head in the sand’ approach is a ticket to failure. Businesses that refuse to adapt are sealing their own fate and putting communities and investors at risk. They’re also wantonly squandering the massive opportunities in low-carbon growth.

“The only road that leads to both a reduction in carbon emissions and economic growth is one built on a clean industrial revolution. This means investing and innovating now in large scale renewable deployment, energy efficiency, new finance mechanisms and low-carbon business models. Most of the energy and technology solutions needed already exist, but need rapid scaling up today not tomorrow. For in the long-term prevention will be a lot cheaper than the cure; the Stern review on the economics of climate change concluded that without action the global cost of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP a year.”

Sharon Turner, head of ClientEarth’s climate and energy programme

“The time for European hand-wringing is over. Faced with this science, it is imperative that European leaders face the serious weaknesses in existing EU climate and energy laws. It is unacceptable to carry on with a highly fragmented and routinely ignored legal framework.

“It is unacceptable to rely so heavily on the still unproven Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) as the EU’s primary tool to address climate change. If Europe is to make a fair contribution to combating global climate change, the ETS must be complemented by a Climate Act for Europe.”

Nicola Walker, director for business environment at the CBI

“This is an important reminder of the risks posed by climate change and the urgent need to take action. We must now reach political agreement across Europe as soon as possible on an ambitious but credible 40% emissions reduction target for 2030.”

Seb Beloe, partner and head of sustainability research at WHEB

“The contrast between the sense of urgency in the latest IPCC report and the poor quality of discourse on climate change in the mainstream media and among political parties could not be clearer. The report confirms that climate change is not a ‘future hypothetical’ but a present reality.

“When people complain about food prices they need to realise that climate change is a significant contributor to this. Climate change is not esoteric and theoretical but impacting in real ways on real people today.”

Peter Michaelis, head of SRI at Alliance Trust Investments

“The report is a consensus and so you expect its language to be moderate. Yet it is very clear in its assessment that climate change is happening and that it is manmade.

“They also summarise, ‘Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger’. This gives me more confidence that companies involved in energy efficiency or renewable energy will be very successful in the coming decades. Our portfolios are designed to have much lower exposure to carbon dioxide emissions (from investee companies) than conventional funds.

“It was also interesting to see the poll in the Times today (p21) which revealed that those over-45 are three times as likely to be sceptical of climate change as those aged 18 to 24. This suggests that support for climate change mitigation measures will grow with time.”

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative

“This report tells us that we have two clear choices: cut emissions now and invest in adaption – and have a world that has challenging and just barely manageable risks; or do nothing and face a world of devastating and unmanageable risks and impacts.

“The report makes it clear that we still have time to act. We can limit climate instability and adapt to some of the changes we see now. But without immediate and specific action, we are in danger of going far beyond the limits of adaptation. With this risk posed so clearly, we have to hope that the next IPCC report which is being released in Berlin in April, will provide us with strong statements on the solutions that we know exist.”

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation

“The IPCC is sending out a clear signal that governments should focus much more on adaptation to climate change. This is by far the most effective and cost-effective policy approach since trying to stop climate change is proving to be mission impossible.

“The international community is deeply divided on mitigation policies and it is extremely unlikely that there will be an international agreement to cap CO2 emissions. In the absence of such a treaty, it is rational to make communities and countries more resilient to whatever climate will throw at us in the next 100 years.”

Neville White, head of SRI at Ecclesiastical Investment Management

“The IPCC report is a further bleak ‘wake-up call’ to policymakers that climate change is happening now and is having ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’ impacts. The UK floods are a compelling example of how climate change will make the new normal a devastating and destructive toll on lives and livelihoods unless global action is taken to adapt and mitigate greenhouse gas release.

“We continue to believe investors have a role to play in promoting energy efficiency, alternative technology and reduction targets in the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.”

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth

“We can’t continue to ignore the stark warnings of the catastrophic consequences of climate change on the lives and livelihoods of people across the planet. Giant strides are urgently needed to tackle the challenges we face, but all we get is tiny steps, excuses and delays from most of the politicians that are supposed to represent our interests.

“Governments across the world must stand up the oil, gas and coal industries, and take their foot of the fossil fuel accelerator that’s speeding us towards a climate disaster. If the UK government wants to show international leadership it must abandon its shortsighted championing of fracking and oil, and get fully behind energy efficiency and our home-grown renewable power potential instead.”

Eliot Whittington, UK director of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group

“The many negative impacts predicted by this authoritative report should make us all sit up and take notice. Climate change is not something that will happen in the future: it is happening now and without urgent action, things will only get worse.

“Enlightened businesses know this and want support from their governments to prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change, and to help minimise future disruption and damage. We must act collectively and urgently in the face of this incontrovertible threat.”

Camilla Born, international co-director for the UK Youth Climate Coalition

“Our generation is fighting to protect our communities from a changing climate, while government leaders fail to understand the consequences of their inaction on our futures.

“The latest climate science shows that we cannot adapt our way out of climate change. We’re on the pathway to a world 4-6C warmer than today – the vulnerable will be hit hardest but this is a future that threatens us all.

“As inequality and youth unemployment rise and climate impacts worsen, world leaders continue to fail our generation. Young people are mobilising across the world. It is time for all leaders to follow and take responsibility for our collective futures – the cost of inaction is too great.”

Andrew Mitchell, executive director of the Global Canopy Programme

“The IPCC’s WGII has delivered a stark warning about the future impacts of climate change. Over the next few years climate change and deforestation will effectively become the bride and groom of global change. Combined, this marriage from hell will play out on a growing population that is expected to peak at over 9 billion by 2050. Unless governments act now, the cost of a divorce settlement will be trillions in lost productivity, rising food and energy prices, and in conflicts among the world’s poorest countries.

“It’s imperative that we get decisive political action now. The role of natural capital, like tropical forests, in both underpinning regional economic prosperity and wellbeing plus mitigating climate change, must be urgently recognised by governments, corporates and the financial sector alike. It’s up to governments to change rules of the economic game to encourage the maintenance of tropical forests, sustainable food production and sustainable finance – now. ”

Paul King, chief executive of UK Green Building Council

“The latest IPCC report makes clear that the impacts of climate change have well and truly arrived. While adapting to these and future impacts is of huge importance, the report also makes clear that mitigation remains a priority, in order to minimise the extent of the risks posed.

“The built environment is on the front line in both the adaptation and mitigation battle – through increased resilience to risks such as flooding and warmer temperatures, and because of the huge opportunity for cutting energy use in the construction and property sector, which accounts for a third of global carbon emissions.”

Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change

“The IPCC’s latest report shows that the impacts of climate change are widespread and without determined action will become more severe. It also suggests that the economic impacts from climate change are likely to be larger than has been possible to estimate. It is therefore critical that governments act now and put climate and energy policies in place which boost investment in low-carbon energy sources. The right policies can turn risks into opportunities. Investors need to be reassured that countries are committed to a low-carbon future in order to finance complex, long-term energy projects.

“The risks of climate change are clear. At the UN climate conference later this year, policymakers have an opportunity to set out ambitious targets that which tackle these risks, reassure investors and set the course for a low-carbon future.” 

James Cameron, chairman of Climate Change Capital

“The IPCC reports are evidence for decision makers.They are negotiated, peer-reviewed consensus documents. There are many scientists who think the problem is much worse than the consensus.

“You will see much more activity from governments on climate in the next two years. In addition, institutional investors will be looking to invest away from risk and towards opportunity in the transformation we must make. They will reassess risk in familiar asset classes and look for competitive advantage in advance of the overall objectives of their funds. They will tell public policy makers they will do substantially more investing in reducing emissions if there is better cost internalising policy like a value for carbon.

“Energy, water and food become critical investment arenas for absorbing the evidence of IPCC. Whatever the financial product assets held in agriculture, energy, infrastructure, property will be revalued by reference to the physical consequences of climate change and the public policy response. There is a huge tension between the short and long term in the creation/destruction of value. We all have to get much smarter at integrating this evidence into how we make decisions in government and business.”

Further reading:

The IPCC’s stark warning: no nation will be untouched by climate change

Leaked IPCC report warns of social and economic impact of climate change

UN: 13 of 14 warmest years on record were in 21st century

IPCC climate report: global temperatures likely to exceed 2C this century

Food supplies threatened as population growth and water shortages collide


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