Humans largely causing accelerated climate change, IPCC reiterates

It is extremely likely human activity has been the main global warming influence since the mid-20th century, a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” the report’s approved summary for policymakers said. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”

Government regulators will likely use the assessment to justify efforts to restrict industrial carbon dioxide and other emissions from oil and gas operations. The US Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to begin regulating methane releases from oil and gas activities. Refineries probably will be included in EPA’s next major carbon pollution control limits.

IPCC’s latest report “is simply the latest reminder that governments and business alike must take stronger action to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare for climate impacts that are too late to avoid,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

“The businesses we work with recognize the rising risks posed by climate change,” Claussen said, adding, “In a recent study, we found that 90% of [Standard & Poor’s] Global 100 companies see extreme weather and climate change as current or near-term business risks. Many companies are taking steps to strengthen their climate resilience and investing in a low-carbon future.”

But Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute in Chicago, said the new IPCC report’s conclusions differ significantly from those the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change reached in a study the institute released on Sept. 17.

“The NIPCC report was produced by a team of independent scientists, with no agenda other than to find the truth,” he said on Sept. 27. “The IPCC study, in contrast, is produced by a government agency, part of the United Nations. That agency’s mission is to find a human impact on climate. Its [summary for policymakers] does not accurately reflect the contents of the complete study, which hasn’t even been completed.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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