Look On The Bright Side Of Climate Change, Says IPCC Report Author

  • Date: 31/03/14
  • Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

UN climate report scientist says that by staying positive about the future, the most intelligent people will be attracted to finding solutions to adapt to climate change

Doom and gloom about the impacts of climate change risks preventing effective action being taken to tackle it, one of the lead scientists in a major UN report into the impacts of global warming has said.

Chris Field, co-chairman of the working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called for more positivity about the “really exciting opportunities” to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In a report to be released today, the IPCC warns of flooding, droughts, heatwaves and food shortages that are likely to result from rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns.

It calls for governments to take action to prepare for and adapt to the increased risks climate change brings.

Mr Field acknowledged that the impacts of climate change set out in the report were overwhelmingly negative.

“It’s true we couldn’t find very many benefits of climate change,” he said. “I believe that’s because there aren’t that many.”

However, he urged policymakers to approach the issue with more positive thinking.

“Climate change is as rich with opportunity as it is with danger,” he said.

“One of the things that made it so difficult for individuals and countries to be serious about climate is that the agenda is such a downer.

“If climate change is a total downer because everything looks so serious, and the only ways to cope effectively are to give up all good things in life, it’s going to be really hard to take action.

“If dealing effectively is taking an innovative, creative, entrepreneurial approach, building great businesses and communities, then it’s a problem that we can deal with.”

He said that many of the real opportunities for innovation this century were going to be in the energy industries, building sustainable housing and creating new transportation systems – key areas for tackling climate change.

Too much negativity about climate change would mean “we are not going to be able to attract the creative people who build the solutions,” he warned.

His comments come after Richard Tol, one of the authors of the report, claimed that a summary document for policy-makers was too “alarmist”.

Benny Peiser, the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank that questions current efforts to tackle climate change, welcomed the report’s focus on adaptation.

“The signal they are sending out is adaptation: prepare for climate change,” he said, arguing that this was a more “cost-effective approach” than trying to stop emissions rising when there was “no chance of international agreement” on such green policies.

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