Control of Climate Change

Recognition and Control of Climate Change

In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) made its first assessment of the state of global climate.  Three more assessments followed every six years with the most recent in 2007.  The governments of the world said to scientists: “here’s a few billion dollars .... get it right” and 17 years after the first IPCC report they got it right. It’s still science, not revealed truth, but over the years the science got better and better. On February 2, 2007 their conclusion was that there is a higher than 90% likelihood that humans are warming the climate by the additions of greenhouse gases (GHG).

The IPCC was created by the world Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.  For the last assessment 40 governments nominated 150 lead authors and 450 contributing authors of Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Working Group I). Authors had their draft chapters reviewed by 600 volunteers who submitted some 30,000 comments.  The IPCC does not only assess the climate but it also reports, using the scientific process, on The climate Change Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability by WorkingGroup II (April 6, 2007) and makes analysis of the possibility of mitigating climate change by Working Group III (May 4, 2007). The work of the IPCC is the most thorough and complete assessment of global climate.  Now that the debate over the content of the 1000-page Fourth Assessment Report is done it is up to the governments, which have requested the reports over the years, to select suitable and adequate response actions for the common good.

In 1997, three years after the second IPCC assessment world governments took the warning and formulated the Kyoto Protocol, which 169 governments or government agencies ratified. The treaty came into force in February 2005.  The Kyoto treaty was recognized to be the first small step in the right direction.  The Canadian parliament ratified the Kyoto treaty in December 2002.  It obliges us to reduce emissions of GHG by 6% below 1990 levels.

Instead of taking early action, we have permitted GHG to increase by some 27% above 1990 levels. How are we going to reduce emissions by 27% to reach 1990 levels and then go 6% below 1990 levels before 2012?  A federal law passed on June 22, 2007 gives the Canadian government 60 days to prepare a GHG plan with measures to ensure that Canada meets its obligations under the Kyoto treaty.  It will expire in 2012 to be replaced by new, and no doubt, even stricter measures to control global  emission of GHG.  Will Canadians become responsible global citizens?

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have endorsed the work of the IPCC and its fourth assessment which “has outlined more clearly and compellingly than ever before the case for serious and urgent action to address the potential consequences of climate change as well as highlighting the dangers and costs of inaction”.

Klaus Jericho
Southern Alberta Group for the Environment
June 26, 2006