In March 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report on climate change, which has been labelled a “call for action” by the chair of the IPCC as well as climate change scientists and governments around the globe.
The 32-volume, 2,600-page report arrives at sobering conclusions regarding the effects of climate change on the planet and humanity – climate change is real and is already melting sea ice, damaging coral reefs, and driving extreme weather disasters such as floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves. With regard to the future, the report raised the threat level, warning of danger to global food stocks and human security.
The report is based on thousands of climate change reports from around the world, and is the result of three years of collaborative work by more than 300 scientists. With climate change-related scientific literature having doubled since its last report in 2007, the IPCC is able to provide a close and detailed look at how climate change could play out and its possible ramifications.
Moreover, unlike the last report, this one steers clear of definitive prediction, instead acknowledging the uncertainty around the world’s vulnerability to climate change. For instance, as far as economic consequences are concerned, the report admits these are “difficult to estimate” and places the figure between 0.2 percent and 2 percent of global income. This has been viewed as a more realistic approach than that previously employed.
Additionally, the report places climate risks within the broader context of other risks, seeing their relationships as complex and interconnected. For instance, it warns that global warming may lead to more violent conflict as well as stating that conflict-ridden countries will be less equipped to deal properly with climate change. In the words of the report, “Climate-related hazards constitute an additional burden to people living in poverty, acting as a threat multiplier.”