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IPCC report provides new evidence of climate change

As scientists have increased their understanding of the climate system, they have been able to state with increasing certainty that the Earth’s climate has changed beyond historic variability, and that humans are the main cause. This is demonstrated in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 Image © Ed Schipul

The Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) looks at the most recent physical science of climate change. It confirms and strengthens the main findings of the Fourth Assessment Report from 2007 with new evidence, drawing on more extensive observations, greater understanding of climate processes and feedbacks, improved climate models, and a wider range of climate change projections.

Climate change is happening now and will continue over decades and centuries to come, the report states, finding that it is at least “95 % certain” that humans are the dominant cause. Action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases can limit the amount and pace of climate change, the report says.  Without such mitigation action, global mean temperature would likely pass the internationally agreed limit of 2 oC above pre-industrial levels at some point this century, possibly before 2050.

Climate change in Europe

A recent report from the European Environment Agency found that climate change is already evident across Europe, affecting ecosystems as well as human activities. This implies that addressing climate change requires a two-handed approach, simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting societies to observed and projected changes.

The European Union’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 were 18.4 % below 1990 levels, according to the latest official data.

Europe is also reacting to experienced and projected climate change, with adaptation now an important policy area at the EU and national level. So far, 16 EEA member countries have developed national adaptation strategies. Adaptation plans have already led to concrete action in many countries as well as at the transnational, regional and local level. Such actions vary considerably, taking into account to address specific climate conditions as well as social and economic contexts.

Resources such as the European Climate Adaptation Portal, Climate-ADAPT, are important tools for sharing practical experience and other information relevant for those adapting to a warmer world.

The European Commission press release on the IPCC report is available here.

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