The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday released the most comprehensive ever study on global warming, prepared by more than 200 scientists over two years. The landmark report concludes that if the world continues to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, we will face warming of more than two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels, within as little as two to three decades.
This is hugely significant because all countries have agreed that temperature rises should be restricted to no more than 2C, thus increasing prospects of preventing so-called dangerous or runaway climate change. The study also concludes that it is "extremely likely" (at least 95% probability) that human activity has caused most of the increase in global temperature in recent decades.
The report downplays the fact that global average surface temperatures have risen more slowly in the past 15 years, contrary to earlier IPCC predictions, saying there were substantial natural variations that masked a long-term warming trend. This point will nonetheless be seized upon by climate change sceptics.
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