Blog

IPCC report: Climate change and the things people care about

  • 07 Apr 2014, 12:00
  • Professor Neil Adger

No place is immune to the impacts of climate change. This is the principal message from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The impacts of climate change will be felt in individual places such as in back gardens, homes, fields and cities and will likely make us feel less safe and secure. 

For the first time the IPCC examines in detail the impacts of climate change on well-being across the report, with a cluster of chapters on the topics of  health, human  security, and  poverty

Human security encapsulates the notion of the vital core of human lives and the ability of people to have freedom and the capacity to live with dignity. Human security has direct material elements, such as life and livelihood, but also elements of cultural expression and identity.

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Daily Briefing | Conservatives plan onshore wind pause

  • 07 Apr 2014, 09:10
  • Carbon Brief staff

Conservatives to promise ban on new onshore windfarms 
The Conservative party's manifesto will introduce a moratorium on future onshore windfarms from 2020 on the grounds that they have now become "self-defeating", the Guardian reports. It will balance the ban with a focus on greater use of solar power and investment in offshore wind farms, the Guardian says. The move has been rejected by the the Conservatives' coalition government partners, with Liberal Democrats calling the policy "crude", the BBC reports
Guardian 

Climate and energy news:

Solar farms 'will not spread unrestricted across British countryside' 
Solar panels will adorn the roofs of buildings, not the fields of Britain's countryside, eneryg minister Greg Barker says. Speaking at the launch of the government's first solar power strategy said he expected the 500,000 homes with solar panels to double by the end of 2015. Barker announced plans to put 4 million solar panels on the roofs of government owned buildings as well as England's 22,000 schools. 
Guardian 

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The IPCC's risky talk on climate change

  • 04 Apr 2014, 12:00
  • James Painter

There can be no doubt how Professor Chris Field wanted the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to be understood.  As well as being co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group 2, Professor Field is an astute media performer with a keen sense of clear messages. 

So it was highly significant just how much emphasis he put on the idea of framing the climate change challenge as one of risk management.

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IPCC says adapt and mitigate to tackle climate risks

  • 03 Apr 2014, 16:55
  • Roz Pidcock

The  front page article of today's Spectator claims the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "updated" its position on climate change, to accept that "climate change is now a question of adaptation".

Author Matt Ridley suggests that this is such a departure from the UN climate panel's previous findings that its conclusions are now in line with those of climate skeptic lobbyist Lord Lawson.

Lawson stresses "the need to adapt to climate change, rather than throw public money at futile attempts to prevent it", according to Ridley, a fellow skeptic campaigner.

It's worth taking this with a pinch of salt. If the IPCC has said more about adaptation in the last week, it's because its most recent report is specifically about adaptation. That doesn't mean mitigation has been abandoned as Lord Lawson would like it to be - indeed, in a week's time the IPCC will publish another report dedicated to the mitigation he so scorns.

Heavy on adaptation

The crux of Ridley's argument is that adapting to climate change is given more prominence in the latest IPCC report than in past ones.

He says:

"[T]he document itself … emphasised, again and again, the need to adapt to climate change … Whereas the last report had two pages on adaptation, this one has four chapters."

In fact, there are six chapters which specifically mention adaptation in their titles in the new report, not four. The previous report in 2007 had two chapters, not two pages.

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Analysis: How UK newspapers covered the IPCC’s report on the impacts of climate change

  • 03 Apr 2014, 16:15
  • Mat Hope

Emett Bergin

From food shortages to endangered species, there were plenty of headline-grabbing findings in the UN's latest big climate report. We take a look at how the UK's newspapers covered the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report.

The IPCC's Working Group 2 (WG2) report on the impacts of climate change was released on March 31st. Monday's report was the second in a series of three from the IPCC. The first report - Working Group 1's on climate change's physical science basis - was a  big story when it was released last September, so it's perhaps unsurprising that WG2's report also received quite a lot of attention.

But despite being overseen by the same organisation, the two reports are very different beasts. While journalists generally focused the WG1 report's topline finding that scientists were more certain than ever about humans influence on the climate, WG2's broad focus led newspapers to print stories on a wide variety of issues: from flooding in the UK, to famine in parts of Africa.

Coverage

We searched the UK's main national newspapers for coverage of the report in the two weeks leading up to its release (a more detailed methodological note can be found at the end of the blog). There were 49 articles in the mainstream press over the 15 days our search covered.

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Daily Briefing | Sea ice decline and coal mine closures

  • 03 Apr 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

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Arctic sea ice falls to fifth lowest level on record 
Arctic sea ice is continuing its 'death spiral', reports the Guardian, with its winter sea ice maximum falling to its fifth lowest on the satellite record. The decline in Arctic sea ice has been particularly noticeable at the end of the summer melt season, - but it's impossible to know exactly what will happen this year, Climate Central reports. 
The Guardian 

Climate and energy news:

UK Coal mines face closures as insolvency threatens 
UK coal needs £10m in investment, from the private sector or the government, to prevent the immediate closure of two of the three remaining deep coal mines in the country. Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire will both be closed within 18 months whatever happens, but a cash investment would be used to create a smoother transition. 
BBC News 

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Risk, resilience and honeybees: Scientists' views on the new IPCC report

  • 02 Apr 2014, 14:55
  • Roz Pidcock

Hundreds of scientists from more than 70 countries helped pull together the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Now it's published, here's what a few of them have to say about the report's messages, and what should happen now.

"No question" the risks are real ...

The IPCC report defines what the research community knows and doesn't know about climate change. Chris Field, co-chair of the group that produced the report, told journalists on Sunday:

"Our job is to represent the full range of scientific and technical views on this critically important issues. When the IPCC does a report, what you get is the community's position."

And the report is unequivocal on the fact that human interference with the climate system is already occurring. Field adds:

"We see impacts from the equator to the poles and from the coast to the mountains. There's no question we already live in a world that altered by climate change"

We're already seeing more frequent extreme weather, food and water shortages, shrinking glaciers and species migrations, the report says. And as climate economist, professor Nicholas Stern, points out:

"These are all happening after less than one degree centigrade of global warming."

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How much flooding is in the UK’s future? A look at the IPCC report

  • 02 Apr 2014, 13:00
  • Roz Pidcock

From posing a threat to natural ecosystems to damaging business, property and livelihoods, a report out this week from the UN's official climate body reviews the wide-ranging damages extreme flooding can cause.

With the UK currently dealing with the impact of widespread flooding, we look at what the report has to say about how serious a risk it could be in the future as the climate changes further.

Getting wetter

Last September, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a bumper assessment of how and why the climate is changing, including projections for how everything from rainfall to arctic sea ice is likely to change in the coming decades.

Scientists expect a warming world to lead to more extreme rainfall. The image below shows the UK receiving about 10 per cent more rainfall on average per year by 2100 (right) compared to 1986-2005 (left).

AR5_rainfall

The UK is set to see about a 10 per cent rise in annual average rainfall by 2100 (right) compared to the period 1985-2005 (left). Source: IPCC 5th Assessment Report  Sumary for Policymakers (p20).

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Daily Briefing | Accusations of 'false balance' in climate change reporting

  • 02 Apr 2014, 09:15
  • Carbon Brief staff

Credit: Roland Unger

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Government accuses BBC of creating 'false balance' on climate change with unqualified sceptics 
A new parliamentary report has criticised programmes across the BBC of attributing the same weight to opinions and scientific fact when covering climate science. The Science and Technology Committee said it was "disappointing" that the broadcaster does not "reflect the actual state of climate science in its output."  The Financial Times has the story and an Independent editorial lends strong support to the committee's conclusions. "Ministers who question the majority view among scientists should "shut up" and instead repeat the Government line on the issue", is the Times's take on the report's findings. The BBC has responded by saying, "We don't believe in erasing wider viewpoints even if the select committee doesn't agree with them." The Today Programme featured a discussion between chair of the cross-party committee Andrew Miller and BBC director of editorial policy David Jordan (listen from 8:35am). 
The Independent 

Climate and energy news:

Lib Dems 'block Conservative plan to halt new wind farms' 
Nick Clegg has blocked a proposal by David Cameron to restrict the construction of onshore windfarms. The Prime MInister is coming under increasing pressure from some within his party to make a manifesto commitment on wind energy, through a cap on the onshore turbines' output, lower subsidies or tighter planning restrictions, reports Rowena Mason for The Guardian. But capping the number of onshore wind turbines would mean resorting to more expensive alternatives, says the Guardian's Damian Carrington. The BBC's Today Programme featured a short discussion on the Tory party stance on renewable energy ahead of the 2015 general election. 
BBC News 

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BBC climate coverage singled out for criticism by cross-party parliamentary committee

  • 02 Apr 2014, 00:00
  • Ros Donald

The government, the media - particularly the BBC-  must up their game in communicating the science of climate change to the public. That's the conclusion of a report by a Parliamentary select committee, out today. 

Detrimental to trust

"A lack of clear, consistent messages on the science has a detrimental impact on the public's trust in climate science."

So says the cross-party Science and Technology Committee's report, 'Communicating climate science', compiled following evidence sessions with a range of experts and representatives of government and the media.  It calls on the government to implement a strategy for communicating climate change "as a matter of urgency" and has harsh words for media outlets that it says have been guilty of confusing scientific evidence with opinion. 

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