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STATEMENT: IPCC 5th Assessment Affirms Human Impact on Climate Change; Impacts Mounting Faster

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Working Group 1 (WG1) portion of its fifth assessment of climate change. Following a review of the most recent authoritative scientific evidence, the WG1 report focuses on the physical science of our climate system and climate change. Representing the most comprehensive international assessment of the climate in the world, the WG1 was prepared by more than 800 authors from nearly 40 countries.

Following is a statement by Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute:

“Make no mistake: The underlying science of climate change is settled. The latest IPCC report confirms our overwhelming understanding that climate change is here and it’s advancing even faster than we realized. Human activities are at the core of it.

“We can parse the details and have a rational discussion about solutions, but we ignore these scientific warnings at our own peril.

“Our experience confirms what the world’s leading scientists are saying. Extreme weather events and climate impacts are taking a grave toll on people and economies. Heat waves are occurring more often; glaciers and ice sheets are melting faster; and seas are rapidly rising. There have been 342 consecutive months – more than 28 years – where global temperatures have been above the 20th century average.

“The costs multiply every day. Droughts disrupt food supplies. Rising seas displace populations. Hurricanes and typhoons wreak havoc on communities worldwide. Climate change is not only profoundly unjust – hurting especially the poor, who have done least to cause it – it is also undermining prospects for future economic growth.

“It’s not just the IPCC. Many other leading authorities—such as the National Academy of Sciences, Global Change Research Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and UK MET Office—have all recently echoed these bottom line conclusions.

“It’s not too late to change course, but we need an urgent response based on the mounting evidence. We need to find pathways to low-carbon, economic growth. We need actions that will reduce global emissions, expedite the shift to clean energy, and enhance the resilience of our communities. We know that the costs of action on climate change are modest, and are dwarfed by the costs of inaction.

“Future generations are depending on us to wake up to this global challenge. It’s time for our leaders to answer the call.”

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Read a related blog on the "carbon budget" by WRI's Kelly Levin, here.

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