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Hacked emails from University of East Anglia should be no challenge to ambitious climate action

07 December 2009

Understandably emails leaked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have caused concern.  But as the Copenhagen Summit gets underway, this incident should not undermine the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of East Anglia has rightly announced an independent investigation into the episode. It is essential that the investigation examines the substance of the email messages and establishes whether there has been any undue manipulation of numbers by the scientists involved.

Regardless of the outcome of this investigation there is overwhelming evidence to support man-made climate change. The IPCC's fourth assessment report, contributed to by over 800 authors from over 130 different countries, concluded that there is greater than 90% certainty that human actions are causing global warming.

Taking action on climate change is a matter of effective risk management.

To illustrate: under the remote possibility that current trends are not man-made but  preventative action is taken anyway,  we would benefit from greater energy security, cleaner local environments, more efficient use of resources, and could even stimulate economic growth, leading to a quicker transition to the next stage in industrial development.

The overwhelming direction of the science suggests that if we do nothing we risk changing the climate irreversibly, with impacts on water, ecosystems, food, coasts and health with dire consequences for billions of people.

An email chain may cause concern, but doesn't change the fundamental laws of science.

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