Prof. Rik Leemans and several other research leaders presented the latest scientific insights at the UNFCCC-SBSTA research dialogue. The research dialogue provides a unique opportunity for the research community to officially present and discuss the latest research results in between the official assessments reports of the IPCC. The dialogue also identifies the research needs of the different delegations.
As the chair of the Earth System Science partnership, which brings together scholars from all the international global change research programmes, Prof. Leemans presented the latest trends on global temperature increases, ice extent at the poles, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and emissions, sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. He made a strong point that the 2oC target, defined and accepted by UNFCCC, requires rapid and large emission reductions. He stated that if world-wide emission reductions were delayed beyond 2020, negative emissions would be needed after 2050 to reach the 2oC target. Although maybe not technically impossible, this would mean an extremely large shift in our energy and land-use systems. Finally, he pointed out that climate change is increasingly becoming connected to other sustainability issues, such as food and water security and biodiversity. Continue to deal with these issues in an isolated way, would jeopardize success. The research community is providing leadership in this respect by further developing and implementing an integrated transdisciplinary research programme, called “Future Earth, research for global sustainability”.
A web-cast of the event is available (starting at slide 31).