Global Warming Science Mandates Action
Energy Minister Pete Hodgson, the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, says the latest report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) further strengthens the case for action to reduce human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Hodgson said the IPCC report reinforced earlier scientific assessments of the role human greenhouse gas emissions play in heating up the globe. Its findings were also consistent with long-term climate changes that have been observed in New Zealand, which has warmed by about 0.7°C since reliable measurements commenced in the early 1870s, with an estimated 40 percent loss of snow and ice in the Southern Alps.
"The report gives a consistent picture of the effect that greenhouse gas emissions have on the world's climate, and there remain no excuses for inaction," Mr Hodgson said. "The New Zealand government is committed to playing its part in reducing the potentially harmful effects of climate change. This is why we are developing a series of policy measures that will allow us to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions in agreement with Kyoto Protocol targets, while encouraging other nations to follow our lead."
Mr Hodgson was referring to the Third Assessment Report of Working Group I of the IPCC, released internationally yesterday afternoon. It says the world has warmed by about 0.6ºC since the 1860s and human emissions of greenhouse gases are likely to be responsible for most of the temperature increase. Several hundred climate scientists from all over the world, including five from New Zealand, contributed to the report.
The report's Summary for Policy Makers states that "an increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities". The report comes to this conclusion after an in-depth analysis of the natural and human factors influencing the world’s climate.
Predictions for future temperature rises range from 1.4 to 5.8ºC by the year 2100, with the amount depending mainly on assumptions about future greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists also predict rising sea levels, possible changes in large-scale weather patterns, and an increase in heavy rainfall events for many regions of the globe.