Managing the risks of climate change

By Jim Leape
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, October 10, 2013
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Like me, you probably have house insurance. The risk of my house burning down may be small, but it is still there. So it makes sense for me to take precautions against such an eventuality. In other words, insuring your house against fire is all about risk management.

With a major event in the world of climate change - the publication of the fifth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - it's worth focusing on climate change as a similar risk management issue.

If it seems like a big leap from the risk of a house razed in a fire to the risk of catastrophic climate change, then let me explain. The IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report - AR5 as it's known by many - is a critical piece of work, involving hundreds of scientists from around the world. Running into thousands of pages, it is the most authoritative assessment of climate change available. Released every six years, assessment reports are published in four parts: three working group reports, followed by a combined "synthesis report". The working group reports deal with climate science, the impact of and adaptation to climate change, and mitigation of climate change.

As is the nature of such voluminous pieces of work, the AR5 is complex, nuanced and detailed. But at its heart, it carries a simple message: the climate is changing. It says greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by humans are the main driver of this change and science is more certain than ever on this. It also says the risks posed by climate change are massive.

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