February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 1, JANUARY 1996
IPCC ASSESSMENT COMPLETE
The IPCC completed preparation of its 1995
Second Assessment Report at a December meeting in Rome. The real work of the
meeting was hammering out the precise wording of the 22-page synthesis
document, which summarizes the several-thousand-page full assessment that
consists of contributions from three working groups: science; impacts and
response strategies; and economics and social dimensions. (See Intl.
Environ. Rptr., pp. 3-4, Jan. 10, 1996.)
According to a feature article in Global Environ. Change Rep. (pp.
1-3, Dec. 22), observers felt that some statements have been weakened compared
to earlier drafts or to the working group summaries. A list of nine possible
policy options for reducing emissions had been included in an earlier draft but
are omitted, due in part to the efforts of some U.S. participants (Nature,
p. 759, Dec. 21-28).
Nevertheless, the final version of the synthesis concludes that failure to
curb greenhouse gas emissions will result in dangerous changes to the
environment such as sea level rise, desertification, reduced biodiversity, and
the spread of disease. It argues for the need to limit the atmospheric
concentration of greenhouse gases and outlines approaches for doing this,
involving increased energy efficiency, changes in fuels and energy sources, and
measures such as tree planting.
The synthesis and the three working group summaries can be obtained from the
IPCC Secretariat, World Meteor. Organiz., CP 2300, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switz.
(tel: 41 22 730 8215; fax: 41 22 733 1270). They are also available on the World
Wide Web at http://www.wmo.ch/. Cambridge University Press will publish the full
assessment in 1996. Brief articles on the synthesis appear in New Scientist
(p. 5, Dec. 23-30, 1995), and Chem. & Industry (p. 1001, Dec. 18,
"Valuing Climate Change," D. Pearce, Chem. & Industry,
p. 1024, Dec. 18, 1995. Comment explaining and defending the approach taken by
Working Group III in its controversial determination of the value of a
statistical human life in developing and developed countries. (See Global
Climate Change Digest News, Dec. 1995)
"Global Warming Rows," Nature, p. 322, Nov. 23, 1995.
Editorial which first reiterates Nature's long held position: that the
likelihood of greenhouse warming is high enough to "demand great things of
politicians." Goes on to explain how the IPCC invites trouble by being both
a quasi-judicial body, reviewing the published literature, and one that is meant
to galvanize governments into action through its executive summaries. It would
be in everyone's interest for the IPCC to reorganize and suspend all working
groups but the one on science.
"Energy Versus the Environment," R. Lukman, Chem. &
Industry, p. 940, Nov. 20, 1995. Explains the position of OPEC regarding the
climate convention, arguing for restructuring the energy tax system in consuming
countries to reflect genuine environmental objectives.
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