According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), global warming is occuring much faster than previously thought.
The findings have been released in a new report, entitled Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner.
This report has found that the Climate Change 2007 report - released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - underestimated the speed of climate change. The 2007 report consolidated research from nearly 4,000 scientists from more than 150 nations.
WWF says that, since the Climate Change 2007 report, the science of climate change has moved on.
IPCC Vice Chair, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele supports the report. He said ”It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious,”
Here are some key findings from the report:
- The Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions. It is now predicted that the summer sea ice could completely disappear between 2013 and 2040 - something that hasn’t occurred in more than a million years.
- Global sea level rise is expected to reach more than double the IPCC’s maximum estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century, putting vast coastal areas at risk.
- Natural carbon sinks - the areas that help to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere - are losing their ability to soak up growing levels of emissions faster than expected.
- Rising temperatures have already led to a major reduction in global yields of wheat, maize and barley, resulting in losses of 40 million tonnes of grain per year.
- Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea are being exposed to the warmest temperatures measured since records began.
- The number and intensity of extreme cyclones over the British Isles and the North Sea are projected to increase, leading to increased wind speeds and storm-related losses over Western and Central Europe.
A Call to the European Union
WWF are looking to the European Union for more action.
Dr. Tina Tin, Climate Scientist and author of the report says “If the European Union wants to be seen as leader at UN talks in Copenhagen next year, and to help secure a strong global deal to tackle climate change after 2012, then it must stop shirking its responsibilities and commit to real emissions cuts within Europe”.
In particular, the report calls on the European Union to:
- Immediately adopt an emission reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 – to be delivered within the boundaries of the EU; and
- Commit – on top of its own reduction target – to provide additional substantial support and funding for investment in socially and environmentally robust adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries.
Dr. Tina Tin continues, “Climate change is a major challenge to the future of mankind and the environment, and this sobering overview highlights just how critical it is that EU Environment Ministers discussing the EU legislations against climate change today commit to a strong climate and energy package, in order to ensure a low carbon future”.