A day of science—The IPCC launched the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report in September, detailing how the case for human-caused climate change just became even stronger and more certain. Today, the IPCC brought their findings to Warsaw to provide delegates and decision-makers with a first-hand glimpse. “The warming of the climate is unequivocal,” said Thomas Stocker, the chair of the group that produced part one of the report. “And many of the changes are unprecedented.” The IPCC labels its findings according to degrees of scientific certainty, and the IPCC authors here in Warsaw said they were very certain that more than 90 per cent of the energy that has accumulated over the last 40 years is stored in the world’s oceans, which has warmed at the same time. New in the report is the idea of a carbon budget—the amount of emissions we can allow before the temperature reaches certain levels. If the world is to keep the global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius this century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change—we have already burned through two-thirds of that budget. Questions on the report came from several countries, including the Philippines, which asked why the IPCC gave such low confidence to findings that cyclones, such as the one that devastated their country, were becoming either more intense or more frequent. The answer, the IPCC scientists said, was that they didn’t have sufficient observations and the ability to simulate the storms in order to boost confidence in the near term, although it is likely that such storms will be more intense in the longer term.
Financing for Climate—One of the big issues in Warsaw concerns how to provide financing to developing countries for funding low-carbon sustainable development in developing countries. In 2010, countries agreed in Cancun that the richer countries would move to mobilize upwards of $100 billion a year for climate financing starting from 2020. Some say the real needs are actually much higher. But there has been an enduring debate over where that money will come from—public or private sources. Some developing countries contend that the financing must come from public sources, such as foreign assistance, while the industrialized countries maintain that a good chunk of that financing will come from private investment opportunities. Today, Bolivia and Venezuela made sharp statements calling for the financing to come from public sources. Said Bolivia, “Climate change is a danger that affects all of mankind. Climate change should not be a lucrative opportunity for corporations.”