On November 2, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its “Synthesis Report,” the final stage document collectively developed that presents the current expert consensus about climate change and its consequences. The Report was published on Sunday in Copenhagen, after a week of intense debate between scientists and government officials.

Prepared by hundreds of scientists from around the globe, it’s a statement of the scientific consensus aimed at the people in government who might do something about climate change. This synthesis report pulls together the conclusions of three prior reports of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, and will “provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change,” according to the IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri.

It is intended to inform politicians engaged in attempts to deliver a new global treaty on climate by the end of 2015.

The report says that reducing emissions is crucial if global warming is to be limited to 2C – a target acknowledged in 2009 as the threshold of dangerous climate change. The report suggests renewables will have to grow from their current 30% share to 80% of the power sector by 2050. In the longer term, the report states that fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would need to be “phased out almost entirely by 2100”.

The Synthesis Report summarises three previous reports from the IPCC, which outlined the causes, the impacts and the potential solutions to climate change.

It re-states many familiar positions:

  • Warming is “unequivocal” and the human influence on climate is clear
  • The period from 1983 to 2012, it says, was likely the warmest 30 year period of the last 1,400 years
  • Warming impacts are already being seen around the globe, in the acidification of the oceans, the melting of arctic ice and poorer crop yields in many parts
  • Without concerted action on carbon, temperatures will increase over the coming decades and could be almost 5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century

“Science has spoken,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

In six weeks, the negotiators will gather in Peru. That meeting is supposed to prepare the way for the conference in Paris in December 2015, which aims to reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto required developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by specific amounts. It was a legally binding treaty—except that it never bound the United States, then the largest emitter, which never ratified it. And it never bound China, now the largest emitter, because all developing countries were exempt.

At EQO as a provider of advisory, management and training services in the areas of Climate Change, Energy,  Environmental Management and Economic Development we will follow closely the climate change negotiations and all scientific findings unveiled within the framework.