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'May I humbly suggest that policymakers avoid being overcome by the seeming hopelessness of addressing climate change,' said Rajendra Pachauri, chairperson of the IPCC, on Monday. (Photo: NASA)

'It Is Not Hopeless,' says World's Chief Climate Scientist

As Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change opens meeting to finalize latest report to the world, head of agency says meeting challenge of global warming will not be easy, but that it can be done

Jon Queally

"It is not hopeless."

That was the key message delivered in Copenhagen on Monday by Rajendra Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as the agency met to finalize the findings and language of its pending Synthesis Report, the last installment of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), designed to provide the world's policymakers with a comprehensive scientific assessment of the risks of human-caused global warming and climate change.

"We still have time to build a better, more sustainable world. We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change... But we have precious little of that time." —Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chair

"The Synthesis Report will provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change," said Pachauri. "It gives us the knowledge to make informed choices, the knowledge to build a brighter, more sustainable future. It enhances our vital understanding of the rationale for action—and the serious implications for inaction."

What was critical for world leaders, policymakers and the global public at large to understand, he said, was that though it won't be easy to avert the worse impacts of the world's changing climate, it is possible.

"A great deal of work and tall hurdles lie ahead. But it can be done. We still have time to build a better, more sustainable world. We still have time to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change," he said.  "But we have precious little of that time."

The series of recent IPCC reports that have come out over the last twelve months and make up the AR5 assessment have shared the common theme of urgency and the Synthesis Report, once finalized, will be the official word from the world's top climate scientists as national government's send their delegates to next year's meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Paris. Alongside the most thorough review of the available climate research ever conducted, the report will offer specific guidance on both mitigation and solutions to address the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases that are increasingly warming the planet's atmosphere and oceans.

"Much has been made of the growing peril of delaying the hard choices that need to be made to adapt to and mitigate climate change," said Pauchari. "I do not discount those challenges. But the Synthesis Report shows that solutions are at hand."

At the last high-level UNFCC talks, known as Conferences of Parties meetings or (COP), world leaders agreed to the goal of limiting global temperature increases this century to 2°C, but so far no binding commitments have been made, either at the national or international level, that scientists say would such a target.

Watch the IPCC's opening session:


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