NEWS: IPCC AR5 report debated in Indonesia
Hard evidence continues to mount from the work of world’s top scientists that the climate is changing and faster than we had anticipated.
It is now well established that since 1880 global average surface temperature has risen by close to 0.85 degrees Celsius. The decade 2001 – 2010 turned to be the hottest ever recorded. Between 1901 and 2010, sea level has risen markedly, by 19 cm. The entire ocean is getting warmer, due to its absorbing more than 90% of the extra heat trapped by green house gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorine-based gases. These are all the headline findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report (www.ipcc.ch) which was presented and debated in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Monday 10 November.
The evidence also is getting stronger: it is getting much clearer that increases in temperature since 1950 are caused by human activities. Compared to industrial revolution times, carbon dioxide has increased by 40 percent thus bringing an entirely new dimension to the term ‘industrial revolution’.
Climate change is already affecting Asia. Changing patterns of rainfall are altering freshwater systems, affecting the quantity and quality of water available in many regions, including South and Southeast Asia. Warming has occurred across much of Asia over the 20th century and into the 2000s. Already today, climatic risks threaten lives, food security, health and wellbeing across many parts of Asia. There are clear signs that the impacts of climate change are already being felt. An article in Nature journal in 2013 reminded us how in a time span of 12 months the Phillipines have been hit by three typhoons. The super typhoon Hainan which hits at more than 310 kilometers per hour, was the most powerful tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history.
The governments of the world have decided to limit the rise in temperatures to 2ºC. Such temperature increase would ruin agriculture, coral reefs and coastal sources of livelihood such as fishing. Clean water availability and disease outbreaks would become even more serious regional and global issues. Migration and conflict over resources are almost -certain outcomes. The IPCC gives the world a ‘carbon budget’ – that is, an amount of greenhouse gases that human activities can release and still ensure that our global society is ‘more likely than not’ to keep global average temperatures below 2 °C. The IPCC also finds that, until now, we have collectively used up 65% of this carbon budget.
Imagine what our world will look like with a 4 °C average temperature rise. Considering the the short window of time remaining for limiting the average surface temperature rise to 2°C or even 3°C, a rise of 4°C by 2100 may even be a reality without urgent action to cut emissions now.
“We have the means to limit climate change,” said Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”
In expanding economically and meeting their development needs, Asian countries have abundant opportunities to adopt clean, efficient technologies and practices with fewer emissions: low carbon alternatives. Many of these measures boost economic productivity, human development and quality of life. For example, clean, green mass transit systems can boost economic productivity, by reducing traffic congestion, and can improve air quality, improving public health. This is a major opportunity.
Meanwhile, improvements in the performance and cost of renewable energy technologies are significant for Asia: a growing number of renewable energy technologies are well-tested and cheap enough to be able to be rolled out on a wide scale. This would help expand access to energy for those who are lacking energy services, too.
Mr. Ali Tauqeer Sheikh Asian Regional Director of CDKN shared his optimistic outlook at the Indonesian event: “The IPCC, in their latest report, reinforces the first-hand experience of millions of people in Asia who are struggling with the impacts of climate change. Ambitious and inspired action is needed to make Asia’s development pathway climate compatible. Across the region, governments at different levels and individual communities and households are showing leadership on tackling climate change. The message from the IPCC is that we need to scale this up to all sectors, all countries and get the benefits reaching the most vulnerable.”
Ms. Syamsidar Thamrin, from the Indonesian Ministry of Planning (BAPPENAS) added her message for decision-makers and citizens of Indonesia:. “To address this climate change challenge, Indonesia has developed the national mitigation action plan (RAN-GRK) and national adaptation action plan (RAN-API). Even though the RAN-GRK and RAN-API already provide a good direction for Indonesia and are in line with the findings from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment, nonetheless, it’s very important to speed up and optimise Indonesia’s achievements, as the countrycould contribute significantly to help reaching the global target preventing increase of 2°C.”
“Further, Indonesia should speed up efforts for adapting to climate change. Indonesia needs to downscale the climate models used by the IPCC to draw more insights for the priority and direction in preparing development programmes and activities such as spatial planning,” Ms Thamrin said.
The discussion on the IPCC’s AR5 report took place as a special side-event to the Asia Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Forum 11-13 November 2014 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. To highlight ways that Asian countries can spur economic growth and improve people’s lives while cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, the Indonesia National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) is hosting the event. An estimated 250 officials, experts, and representatives of international organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from 25 countries will attend this regional event to identity and discuss policies and actions for achieving economic growth, job creation, and other priority goals of countries in Asia through a low-carbon, green growth approach.