International Panel on Climate Change Releases Its Summary for Policymakers
Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group composed of scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), released its “Summary for Policymakers” in advance of their extensive Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change that will be released in several parts this year.
Since the Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001, scientists’ understanding of climate changes has improved with greater access to information and data. The 2007 Summary reports some major points with regards to the issue of climate change:
· Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane
and nitrous oxide now far exceed pre-industrial levels. Increased
agricultural production and rising use of fossil fuels are the main
contributors to the rise in these gases.
· The summary has very high confidence (at least 90% certainty)
that the net effect of human activities has been that of warming.
· The warming of the climate system in unequivocal.
· Long-term climates changes over regional, continental and ocean
basins have been shown.
· Most of the increases in temperature are very likely (>90%) the
result of increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.
Noticeable human influences extend to other climate observations,
such as ocean warming and wind patterns.
· If greenhouse gases continue to be emitted at the same or above the
current rate, it is very likely that the 21st century will bring greater
changes those detected during the 20th century.
· There is now “higher confidence” in projected patterns of w arming,
“including change in wind patterns, precipitation, and some aspects
of extremes and of ice.” The warming is expected to be greater over
land and at the higher northern latitudes.
· Even if greenhouse gases were stabilized immediately, warming and
Sea levels would continue for centuries due to the time it takes for
the gases to be removed from the atmosphere.
Addressing global climate change is high on the list of Trillium Asset Management’s advocacy priorities. This year we are the lead filer ofa new resolution at ConocoPhillips calling for a report on how the company will invest in renewable energy. We are co-filers of a resolution at ExxonMobil calling for the company to set greenhouse gas reduction targets for its products and operations. We recently withdrew a resolution at Anadarko when the company agreed to establish greenhouse gas reduction targets by mid-2008. In addition, some of our political contributions disclosure resolutions draw attention to the contradictions between companies’ internal greenhouse gas reduction policies and their membership in trade associations seeking to weaken public policy measures to combat global warming.