UK & World News

  • 6 May 2014, 9:35

Climate Change: Why It's Everyone's Problem

No part of the planet will remain untouched by the effects of climate change, the United Nations has warned.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control's latest assessment paints a disturbing picture for the world unless urgent, concerted effort is made to tackle the issues.

Committee chairman Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, told Sky News: "Our report has also clearly established that even in prosperous nations you will see pockets of poverty likely to expand as a result of the impacts of climate change.

"This is something that we are all in together and it seems to me that every society has to take climate change seriously."

The panel is a scientific body constituted under the auspices of the UN as an international authority on climate change. Its fifth assessment report has raised the consequence of climate change to new levels.

Dr Pachauri said: "The problem requires urgent and adequate action and, if we do that, then we would certainly be creating a much cleaner, a much better and perhaps a much more peaceful planet."

Britain's Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012 had identified the country's vulnerability to climate change. Its report indicated severe winters, heatwaves and major coastal and inland flooding that could cost the exchequer £1.5bn a year.

Damage from the 2007 floods in the UK is estimated to have been more than £3bn, while those earlier this year could cost in the range of £1bn.

Apart from the damage from floods and storms there are repercussions for natural habitats, biodiversity, crop yield and health risks which are putting an additional burden on the NHS.

Dr Pachuri said: "Two sets of extreme events we projected that will increase in frequency and intensity are heatwaves as well as extreme precipitation events - so much so that, in the case of heatwaves, those heatwaves that currently occur once in 20 years under certain scenarios will, by the end of this century , occur once in two years.

"This is something that the world has to take notice of seriously."

The panel's report emphasised that environmental stresses could bring the world to a tipping point.

Climate change has already had a negative effect on crop yield giving rise to food insecurity and costs.

All this, it says, has led to political instability witnessed in some Asian and African countries in 2008.

The report has been seven years in its making and will be the last of its kind until the all-important global meeting set for December 2015 in Paris.

But Dr Pachauri remains optimistic. "We are very encouraged with the kind of response that we have received. I think there is enormous awareness among all sections of decision makers all over the world and I have every reason to believe that we will see action in the near future."