Inside Story

The human hand in climate change

A new UN report says it is 'extremely likely' man is to blame for global warming, but will it make a difference?

Last Modified: 28 Sep 2013 10:58
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Leading climate experts have raised the likelihood that humans are responsible for global warming. The latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is now 95 percent certain that human behaviour is responsible.

The report is really very, very  clear: it is man that has dominantly caused the changes that we are seeing already and it will only get worse if we don't change the trends. And now, you don't really have any politician who can hide behind any excuse saying: I didn't really know better...

Martina Krüger, Greenpeace Nordic

It is the strongest message yet from the world's top scientists on what may be behind the rise in average global temperatures.

One of the most controversial subjects in the report was how to deal with a slowdown in warming in the past 15 years.

But climate skeptics say that casts doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change.

Meanwhile, behind the headlines of extreme weather and worries about climate change, some communities are benefiting from the new summer thaw.

Fishermen in northern Canada say they are enjoying bigger catches than ever before because of climate change and ice-free summer months in the Arctic are helping build a commercial fishing industry there for the first time.

Elsewhere, in Canada’s Western Arctic and off Alaska, there are moratoriums on new commercial fishing until scientists can do more research on one of the least understood eco systems on the planet – the Polar Seas.

Boris Worm, an Oceanographer at Dalhousie University says: "I think that’s a precautionary approach that’s actually enshrined in international law. When you understand a place, at least you study it before you start exploiting it. And that’s what we should do.“

But Canada has been cutting funding for Arctic research and many of those who live in this harsh environment have to seize whatever opportunities arise from climate change, even as they confront its many challenges.

So, what should be done to reverse global warming? What is the answer to climate change? Who will feel the impact of climate change the most? And will the report be taken seriously by those who pollute the most?

Inside Story, with presenter Lauren Taylor, discusses with guests: Martina Kruger, the head of climate and energy for Greenpeace Nordic; Nicolette Bartlett, the senior programme manager at the University of Cambridge's Programme for Sustainability Leadership and the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group; Bjorn Lomborg, the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World; and Josefino Comiso from the earth sciences division at NASA and co-author of the IPCC report.

"It is very clear that man is causing part of global warming, I think prertty much everyone has already known that, the much bigger issue is how do we tackle it? And unfortunately for the last 20 years we've been trying to do so essentially by buying very expensive carbon cuts. And of course, not surprisingly that means that rich countries have done a little to feel good but really not all that much and we certainly haven't got either China or India or any of the big emitters on board .... This is about getting innovation going and get much cheaper green energy before we try to say let's cut a lot."

Bjorn Lomborg, Copenhagen Consensus Center


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