Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest major review of physical science on climate change. The report confirms that human emissions of carbon pollution are causing climate change, warming and acidifying the oceans, and melting the glaciers of Greenland and across the Arctic at alarming rates.
Statement by Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice:
“The world’s leading climate scientists have released a report saying they are more certain about human-caused climate change than ever before, and it’s happening faster than they ever thought it would. They are now 95 percent certain that climate change is human-caused, and in science, it doesn’t get more certain than that. We are also seeing a clearer picture than ever before thanks to advancements in scientific monitoring, which are making this fifth IPCC report the most precise yet.
“If your doctor said you have a 95 percent chance of having a heart attack, you would try to change your lifestyle. This IPCC climate science assessment tells us in the strongest possible terms that we ignore climate change at our great peril.
“The report tells us that our oceans are warming and acidifying and glacial ice in Antarctica and Greenland is melting faster than predicted, causing sea levels to rise globally. The projected sea-level rise of 5–6 feet by 2100 would be devastating to coastal communities, especially on the East Coast of the United States and on islands and low-lying coastal areas around the world. The window for taking action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is closing quickly.
“We are finally seeing some progress in the U.S. Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, new coal-burning power plants will be required to capture carbon pollution if they want to compete for customers in the future. Next June, the administration will issue rules to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal plants, the source of 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. These are important steps forward.
“But this is not enough. The U.S. must end our pursuit of extreme energy, like drilling in the Arctic, leveling mountains in Appalachia for dirty coal, and importing carbon-heavy tar sands oil from Canada. We must also reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon that speed the melting of Arctic ice.
“The times also demand bold action from states and communities across the country. Across the country, citizen groups have successfully fought for the retirement of aging coal-fired power plants that are our biggest carbon polluters, and a majority of states have taken action to promote clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have adopted standards that require the use of renewable energy, and 24 states have fully-funded energy efficiency policies in place that are making a big dent in our energy consumption. In the Northeast, nine states have banded together to create a carbon trading program that caps regional carbon emissions and spurs investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In Hawai’i, regulators and utilities have introduced path-breaking plans to enable a massive expansion of rooftop solar systems connected to the grid. We need this kind of climate action in every state and community across the nation.”
Two valuable Earthjustice media resources on climate issues:
Abigail Dillen, Vice-President of Climate & Energy
On regional initiatives and litigation that address climate pollutants.
Erika Rosenthal, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice International Program
On international efforts to reduce black carbon and protect the Arctic peoples from climate change.