Leading report highlights urgent need to tackle climate change

27 September 2013

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its latest summary report which states climate change is “clear” and global warming is “unequivocal”.

The fifth assessment report (AR5) from the IPCC – the leading scientific authority on the state of the global climate – consists of scientists’ contributions from all over the world and can be summarised with the strapline: climate change is here, it’s manmade and its impacts are getting worse.

CAFOD has welcomed the report, released today at a gathering in Stockholm, for providing yet further scientific evidence to underpin the experiences of the communities we work with on the ground.

Sarah Wykes, CAFOD’s lead policy analyst on climate change and the environment, said: “According to recent CAFOD research in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uganda and the Philippines, things have got worse for poor people in the last 15 years. This is due to a range of different factors, but changing climatic conditions and associated weather impacts – such as increased droughts and flooding – have played a significant part. The IPPC points to a shared global responsibility to tackle the root causes of climate change and support those who are vulnerable to its impacts – particularly poor people who have the fewest resources to cope.” 

Humans have 'likely' caused warming
One of the key findings from the IPCC AR5 report is that there is now over 95 per cent certainty that human activity is responsible for climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

Other significant findings
  • Sea level rise and the melting of glaciers and polar ice are accelerating;
  • Globally, there will be heavier and more frequent precipitation;
  • The frequency of category four and five storms could increase across the world;
  • Some areas are experiencing more severe and more frequent droughts, such as in West Africa where CAFOD partners work;
  • And for some regions flooding is predicted to increase, in particular in Central America - another key place of work for CAFOD.

The report also highlights the ‘best case’ scenario for warming in terms of climate sensitivity – the amount by which the Earth will warm if atmospheric CO2 levels were to double. The report puts this at 1.5°C of warming by 2100. However, just as likely is the ‘worst case’ scenario – 4.5°C of warming – which would be catastrophic for human beings and the planet. Global emissions are predicted to more than double and without urgent action to cut emissions, we are on track for warming that will exceed the agreed safe limit of 2°C.

Urgent change needed
In light of these findings, CAFOD is calling for urgent action from governments to tackle the root causes of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is a renewed opportunity to agree a fair and legally binding deal on cuts internationally by 2015. Crucially, countries must also shift away from polluting sources of energy to cleaner alternatives. Developed countries, like the UK, who bear the greatest responsibility for addressing the problem, must also meet their commitments to support poorer countries hit by climate change now and in the future. This is the only way to reduce poverty in the long-term.

Read more about the IPCC process and some additional key findings from the latest report

View an infographic about the extent to which humans are responsible for climate change

View an infographic that explains how polar ice is melting

View an infographic that shows how sea levels are rising

Read a letter from Catholic development agencies calling for climate justice

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