Global warming is definitely happening, and the effect on the world could be “abrupt” or “irreversible” if action isn’t taken soon, according to an authoritative new report by the world’s scientists.
The key finding of the final report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, prepared by top climate scientists from around the world, is that the “warming of the climate system is unequivocal”.
The report says without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades climate change will get worse, with effects relevant to Australia including:
- Less water and more droughts in mid-latitude and semi-arid countries – like Australia.
- Increased coral bleaching and species extinction.
- More frequent and more destructive coastal storms.
The report has already been interpreted as a clarion call to the world’s political leaders, with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon saying yesterday that the world’s scientists had spoken with one voice. “I expect the world’s policymakers to do the same,” he said.
In Australia, the business community has lead the way on the environment in many respects and is now waiting for the political debate to catch up, according to Australian Industry Group associate director of public policy Peter Burn.
“The business community is not homogenous, but in many cases the business community is absolutely way out ahead of the political debate, especially until three or four months ago,” Burn says.
For the most part, good commercial sense has demanded that business get on top of the climate change issue and take a longer term view, according to Burn.
People who have or are planning to make big investments need to know what is going to happen in the regulatory environment and are already thinking about what needs to be done, and of course business in areas like wind energy production are leading the way in terms of solutions to some of these problems,” he says.