“The worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised,” the scientists said in a statement, referring to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.”
“Recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change with poor nations and communities particularly at risk,” the statement said. It noted that policy-makers already have a range of economic and technological tools to mitigate global warming. “But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to de-carbonise economies.”
The IPCC predicted a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimetres by the end of the century, which could flood low-lying areas and force millions to flee. But more recent research presented at the conference suggested that melting glaciers and ice sheets could help push the sea level up at least 50 centimeters, and possibly as much as one metre.
Nicholas Stern, the British economist who authored a 2006 report for the British government detailing the costs of climate change, told the scientists that the global recession presents an opportunity to build a more energy-efficient, low-growth economy over the coming decades. “We know from this crisis that if we postpone looking risk in the face, it will bite us much more deeply,” Stern said.
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