IPCC report shows urgent need for clean revolution: Mark Kenber

31 March 2014

LONDON: The latest installment of the world's most comprehensive study on climate change was released in Yokohama, Japan, today. Our CEO Mark Kenber stresses how the authors' stark forecast must spur our business and government leaders to urgently invest in a clean revolution, to secure a low carbon future for all.

The critical new report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists, is a bleak analysis of the impacts runaway climate change will have on the world's communities, resources and economy.

Detailing climate change impacts to date, future risks and opportunities for action, the report concludes:

  • The warming of the planet is caused by human activity, and is having serious impacts on food and water supplies, human health and global security, with developing countries and rural communities likely to be worst affected.
  • Adapting to climate change will not be cheaper than mitigating it, and there are limits to how much we can adapt because past emissions have already ‘locked in’ decades of climate impacts.
  • The cost of climate change is far higher than expected.
  • Although climate risk has been fast-growing over the past decades there is huge capacity to address the risks and adapt to a changing climate.

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, said that today’s IPCC Working Group II report underlined that businesses would have to embrace radically new ways of working to prosper in a warmer climate, and pointed to China’s attempts to build an ‘eco-civilization’ to protect itself from climate impacts.

He commented: “The latest report from the IPCC makes for sobering reading. From Asia’s most dynamic and growing cities to Arctic shipping lanes, the effects of climate change will leave no nation untouched and have profound impacts on the global economy.

The IPCC report needs to act as a wake-up call. The ‘head in the sand’ approach is a ticket to failure. Businesses that refuse to adapt are sealing their own fate and putting communities and investors at risk. They’re also wantonly squandering the massive opportunities in low carbon growth.

“The only road that leads to both a reduction in carbon emissions and economic growth is one built on a clean industrial revolution. This means investing and innovating now in large-scale renewable deployment, energy efficiency, new finance mechanisms and low carbon business models. Most of the energy and technology solutions needed already exist, but need rapid scaling up today, not tomorrow. For in the long term, prevention will be a lot cheaper than the cure; the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change concluded that without action the global cost of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP a year.

“We also need to empower world leaders to go to the climate negotiations in Paris 2015 with the evidence and ambition to strike a global climate deal that delivers growth and prosperity. We have seen extraordinary examples of low carbon leadership from sub-national governments and businesses which should inspire the inter-governmental process.

“Through our work with the Chinese leadership, we have also seen first-hand how investment in innovative technology and markets can ignite the economy. China has started to explore a concept it calls ‘eco-civilization’ which encompasses economic development, urbanization, resource management and the environment. The results are now paying dividends: China installed more solar in 2013 than any country ever has before, beating leader Germany and record installations from America.”

The report, which focuses on the effects a changing climate will have on resources, growth and security, follows last September's first part on the 'Physical Science Basis', which says humans are to blame for climate change.

The Working Group III report will be released mid-April and the whole IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle ends with the the Synthesis Report in October 2014.

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said in a statement: “The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change. Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions.”

The Climate Group published a five-part briefing series covering the basics of climate science before last year’s IPCC release. Read them here.

Read the latest IPCC Working Group II report 

Related news:

Report - Understanding China’s new low carbon growth plan

UK Met Office warns of a changing climate’s cost to the economy, days before IPCC release

As climate scientists gather in Japan, UN reports 2013 was sixth warmest year on record

EU and US join forces to agree climate deal in Paris

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