Experts raise urgency for more action on climate change PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 July 2014 11:32

By CATHERINE J. REYES

 

Several foreign experts urged increasing action for addressing climate change to help better protect the environment and people, particularly the marginalized, from its ills.

Such ills include onslaught of weather extremes as well as sea level and temperature rise, all of which fuel repercussions that threaten life on Earth.

“Climate change will have a big impact,” Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II Technical Support Unit science co-director Dr. Katharine Mach said this week in Metro Manila during a briefing on the matter.

She noted the impact will be greater on impoverished areas where vulnerability to climate change is higher.

UNISDR defines vulnerability as “the characteristics andcircumstances of a community, system or asset that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard.”

Hazard is “a dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage,” notes UNISDR.

The briefing was among outreach activities of IPCC to increase awareness about its work and output including the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

IPCC partnered with the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission for the outreach’s Metro Manila leg.

Reporting on key physical science findings of AR5, IPCC said warming of the climate system “is unequivocal.”

“Human influence on the climate system is clear,” IPCC also notes in its physical science summary report for AR5.

The summary report says increasing greenhouse gas (GHG)concentration in the atmosphere and observed warming are among manifestations of such influence.

GHG emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and this raises global temperature so climate change results, noted experts.

IPCC Working Group II co-chairperson and Stanford University professor Dr. Christopher Field cautioned about the changing climate’s influence on formation of tropical cyclones.

“Change in the climate strengthens some factors that build up tropical cyclones,” he said at the briefing.

He cited need to invest in adaptation measures so countries can cope with repercussions of the changing climate.

Measures to reduce GHG emissions are also necessary for climate change mitigation, indicates the IPCC summary report.

“Continued emissions of GHGs will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system,” the report says.

The report notes limiting climate change will require “substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions.”

Southeast Asia is among regions which experts expect to bear the brunt of climate change and the problem won’t involve just onslaught of weather extremes.

“Sea level rise will be an issue for Southeast Asia and so will ocean acidification,” IPCC Working Group I Vice-Chairperson and Victoria University professor Dr. David Wratt said at the briefing.

According to the IPCC summary report, rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century “has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millenia.”

Over the 1901-2010 period, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 m., the report notes.

“Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century,” reads the report.

The report also notes climate change will affect the carbon cycle in a way that’ll exacerbate increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification,” the report warns.

IPCC’s physical science summary likewise notes the world’s oceans will continue to warm during the 21st century and heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep, affecting ocean circulation.

Universite Catholique de Louvain professor and science advisor Dr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele urged implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures, noting confluence of weather extremes and climate change’s other repercussions will wreck havoc on countries concerned.

“There’ll be higher damage,” he said at the event.

IPCC Working Group III Vice-Chairperson prof. Jim Skea noted the climate change problem’s magnitude and funding needed to address this warrants action not just by governments but by the private sector aswell.

The private sector has a role in generating funds for GHG emission reduction and other measures to address climate change, he noted.

“Climate finance is multi-faceted,” he also said.

National University of Malaysia professor and IPCC Working Group I Vice-Chairperson Dr. Fredolin Tangang sees need for further research on climate change to help address knowledge gaps particularly those on Southeast Asian concerns.

“The climate system is quite complex - we need involvement of more scientists,” he said at the event.

Created under the auspices of UN and World MeteorologicalOrganization, IPCC serves as the leading scientific inter-governmental body tasked with reviewing and assessing the latest climate change-related information.

IPCC produces assessment reports that are mostly used as basis to support decisions at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the main international climate change treaty.

The body established three working groups for preparation of its assessment reports on information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of human-induced climate change risk, its potential impacts as well as options for adaptation and mitigation.