ANU experts respond to the IPCC report on climate change

3 November 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest synthesis report on climate change, warning that greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years, with recent increases mostly due to burning fossil fuels.

ANU experts have responded to the report.

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Dr Elizabeth Hanna
Convenor, Climate Change Adaptation Research Network - Human Health President: Climate and Health Alliance
National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment
(Dr Hanna’s research was featured in the IPCC report)

“This report synthesises the climate science and the adaptive strategies we need to do to protect human health, the environment, society and industry, and the mitigation effort required to keep us all safe. There is a level of urgency that now permeates the report, and we don’t have many years left to reduce our levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

“We are definitely on track for more warming, more extreme weather events. It won’t be too long, according to these trajectories, that capital cities will start to experience temperatures over 50 degrees. If that happens, we are risk of mass death events in Australia, similar to the death tolls due to extreme heat overseas. In 2003, 70,000 people died in Europe, and 55,000 died in Russia in 2010, due to extreme heat.”

Professor Ken Baldwin
Director, ANU Energy Change Institute
Deputy Director, ANU Climate Change Institute
ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences

"The IPCC has significantly strengthened the urgency of its call for action to counter serious economic and environmental damage from climate change, with the imperative to remove carbon from all energy generation - particularly electricity - by 2050.

“This has significant implications for Australia, which both domestically and through exports is exposed to the sovereign risk of substantial fossil fuel stranded assets unless it immediately undertakes a smooth transition towards a low carbon economy - including placing a price on carbon through, for example, an Emissions Trading Scheme.”

Associate Professor Frank Jotzo
Director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy
ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

“The science is clear, and through this IPCC Synthesis Report it is accepted by the world’s governments: to limit the risk of unacceptable climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall 40 to 70 per cent by 2050, and to near zero by the end of the century.

“The technologies to achieve a low carbon world energy system already exist, and their costs are coming down rapidly. Renewable energy, and nuclear power in some countries, is the answer – together energy efficiency and using electricity and biofuels for transport.

“That of course leaves the coal industry out in the cold. A mighty fossil fuel lobby is against effective action on climate change. That is what drives Australia’s shift away from the carbon price which was an effective policy, and towards ‘Direct Action’ which will give taxpayer-funded subsidies to emitters and achieve less.”

 

Dr Paul Burke
Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

“The IPCC's report again makes it clear that climate change is a serious problem that we should get busy avoiding. From a policy point of view, a move back to emissions pricing would be the cheapest and smoothest way to encourage the low-carbon transition that we need.”