UN climate panel revises carbon emission figures

12 Nov 2013

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The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) foresees more floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels, and has revised its estimates of historical greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC, which helps governments adopt cleaner sources of energy, originally made those historical estimates in September. Its current revisions do not affect conclusions that time is running out to limit global warming, the IPCC added.

The revisions come amid the annual UN climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, from 11-22 November.

The IPCC has revised the cumulative amount of carbon emitted since 1860-1881 to 515bn tonnes from 531bn given in September, and revised the amount emitted since 1750 to 555bn tonnes from 545bn, Reuters reported.

Global emissions are now at about 10bn tonnes of carbon annually, meaning those changes are equal to about a year to 18 months of emissions.

“Errors in the summary for policy-makers were discovered by the authors of the report after its approval and acceptance by the IPCC,” it said in a statement.

The IPCC did not say how the errors had been made.

The world has emitted more than half of the estimated 1trn tones of carbon regarded as the maximum to keep temperatures within safe limits at less than 2°C (3.6°F) above the period of 1861-1880, with more than a two-thirds probability, the IPCC said.

Several experts have said the world has only a few decades left before breaching the IPCC safety limits unless tough action is taken to reduce emissions, Reuters reported.

Carbon emissions image via Shutterstock

Tina held senior editorial positions at daily newspapers in Ottawa and Toronto

editorial@siliconrepublic.com