Month: July 2014

Grantham Institute welcomes results of Energy and Climate Change Committee review of IPCC WG1 report

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee report on the Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, which is published today, has found the IPCC process to be robust. The committee launched an inquiry into the IPCC WG1 report in October 2013, following criticism by some commentators of the IPCC review process and its conclusions.

The Grantham Institute submitted written evidence to the committee (you can read our evidence here) and our Chair Professor Sir Brian Hoskins was called before the committee to give oral evidence.

The committee found that “the IPCC has responded extremely well to constructive criticism in the last few years and has tightened its review processes to make its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to-date.

Sticking to the budget

Following on from Simon Buckle’s post this morning another piece of good news on emissions reductions, the UK government has announced that they will not amend the fourth carbon budget, after reviewing their commitments in light of progress within the EU.

Therefore the carbon budget for 2023-27 remains at 1,950 MtCO2e, keeping the UK on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 80% relative to 1990 levels.

This decision is in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change given in December 2013, that there was no basis to change the fourth carbon budget.

You can read more about the review in our background note on the fourth carbon budget.

Merkel raises the level of ambition

By Dr Simon BuckleGrantham Institute

There was some good news last week from the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogues held on 14-15 July in Berlin.  The Petersberg meetings were instituted after the perceived failure of the Copenhagen summit in 2009 in order to support the UNFCCC talks. They are co-chaired by Germany and the country hosting the next Conference of the Parties meeting, in this case Peru.

Chancellor Merkel took the opportunity in her address to signal renewed ambition for climate action, perhaps disappointing some of those who had been hoping (or even working) for a reversal of Germany’s commitment to decarbonisation. 

Fact checking a recent Telegraph article by Christopher Booker

by Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

In an article for the Telegraph, Christopher Booker gave his views on Professor Sir Brian Hoskins’ appearance on the Today programme earlier this year. In the article, Booker made several claims about climate science relating to rainfall, atmospheric humidity, polar sea ice extent, global temperatures and sea level rise. In this blog I will assess his claims against the findings of the latest report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a hugely comprehensive assessment of the scientific literature.

  Rainfall and floods

Booker’s comment: “Not even the latest technical report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could find any evidence that rainfall and floods were increasing.”

 Scientific Evidence:

The IPCC report found a significant climate influence on global scale changes in precipitation patterns (with medium confidence), including increases in precipitation in northern hemisphere mid to high latitudes.

7 Frightening Findings from the IPCC Report

By Helena Wright, Research Postgraduate, Centre for Environmental Policy

Helena Wright, an Imperial PhD student, looks at worst possible scenarios from the IPCC Working Group II report.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report, featuring the most up-to-date science on global climate change.

As a researcher, I had an opportunity to contribute to a table in one of the chapters and have read through each of the 30 chapters of the Working Group II report (on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability).  Here is my personal take on seven of the most frightening findings from the WG2 report:

  1. CO2 levels of 1000ppm could impact on mental performance

The health chapter explains how climate change will affect global health, including direct impacts of heat stress, drought and extreme events, as well as indirect impacts on nutrition and mental health.

UNFCCC climate negotiations: reflections from the Rhine

By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute

I spent a few days at the recent Bonn climate change conference (4-15 June) during the High Level Ministerial events on 5-6 June.  Not that these were the most interesting things happening there. Unsurprisingly, by and large, Ministers did not stray from well rehearsed positions, reflecting the continued skirmishing over the interpretation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) term “common but differentiated responsibilities” in a world that is radically different from the one in which the Convention was conceived.

More interesting were the briefing session on the UN Secretary General’s forthcoming climate summit in New York on 23 September and a series of special events where negotiators got the chance to hear from and question IPCC authors about the implications of the IPCC AR5 reports for the UN negotiations and the review underway of the long-term target (2°C or 1.5°C?), a key issue for vulnerable countries (e.g.