On February 2, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finalized what it calls a "comprehensive and rigorous picture" of current knowledge of global warming. The report concluded that the fact of global warming is "unequivocal," that it is "very likely" caused by human activity, and that the Earth's average surface temperature will probably rise by 3.2 degrees F to 7.2 degrees F in this century, and could rise as much as 11.5 degrees F.
A PDF summary of the report is available here.
Here is a selection of reactions from around the world:
"[The report] reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years."
– Dr. Sharon Hays, Associate Director/Deputy Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a White House statement.
Dr. Hays headed the US delegation to the working group that drafted the summary report. The United States is the world's top carbon emitter, and it has opposed international treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol, that mandate emissions cuts.
"A carbon tax is inevitable."
– Jacques Chirac, president of France, in an interview with the International Herald Tribune.
Chirac says that he will push for a European-Union-wide tax on imports from nations that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol, including the United States. The EU is the largest export market for US goods.
"The good news is our understanding of the climate system and our impact on it has improved immensely. The bad news is that the more we know, the more precarious the future looks. There's a clear message to Governments here, and the window for action is narrowing fast. If the last IPCC report was a wake up call, this one is a screaming siren."
– Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace International Climate & Energy Campaigner, in a statement released by the environmental group.
"We have to be responsible members of the global community and we must do something in this area without jeopardising the removal of poverty. . . I think the time has come for us to develop a roadmap for the future on what is it that India can do and should do."
– IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri, a native of Nainital, India, speaking at a news conference.
"[W]hat is the role of Europe if China is the workbench of the world, India the service provider, Russia the petrol pump and Brazil the farmer?"
– German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, speaking on behalf of the EU presidency, currently held by Germany, said that Europe must become the "technicians and engineers."
"We are now beyond a critical turning point in the debate: those who continue to ignore the threat and its causes, or invoke half-baked arguments to confuse and obstruct, will be doing the greatest disservice imaginable to current and future generations."
– Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, in the Mail & Guardian.
"Because the risks to society and ecosystems could prove to be significant, it is prudent now to develop and implement strategies that address the risks, keeping in mind the central importance of energy to the economies of the world. This includes putting policies in place that start us on a path to reduce emissions, while understanding the context of managing carbon emissions among other important world priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health."
– From a press release from ExxonMobil. The oil giant, which in the past had spent millions of dollars funding advocacy groups that downplay the risks of carbon emissions, announced in January that it was cutting ties to global-warming skeptics.
"My message is a simple one -- take global warming and climate change more seriously. Act now, before it becomes too late to save not only the low-lying islands but the entire planet."
– Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, president of the Maldives, in an interview with Reuters. Experts predict that rising sea levels will wipe the Indian Ocean island cluster off the map in a few generations.