Scientists ‘95 per cent certain’ that climate change is man-made

UN panel estimates sea levels could rise by 2ft 8in by the end of the century in latest draft report

A A A

Scientists are more certain than they have ever been that humans are causing climate change and believe that sea levels could rise by up to 2ft 8in by the end of the century.

These are among the key findings likely to be published next month in the most authoritative and comprehensive report ever conducted into climate science - the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment, known as AR5.

According to a draft of the report, the certainty that humans are the main cause of climate change has risen to 95 per cent, from 90 per cent in the previous - fourth - assessment six years ago. This, in turn, was a significant increase on the 66 per cent certainty reached in 2001’s third assessment and just over 50 per cent in 1995.

With every IPCC report there is a key phrase that encapsulates the latest consensus on climate change, which scientists wrangle over for months.

According to a leaked copy of the draft, the key phrase in the forthcoming report will say: “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

“There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes,” adds the draft, which could be changed before the final version is published in Stockholm in September.

The draft projects that seas will rise by between 29cm and 82cm (11.4 to 32.3 inches) by the end of the century, while greenhouse gas emissions continue to soar.

The latest in a series that began in 1990 and last reported in 2007, AR5 has 840 main authors recruited from 38 of the IPCC’s 195 member countries, with British and American scientists making the biggest contribution.

At more than 3,000 pages, the report is so big that it will be released in three parts over the next 14 months. The first part covers the physical science of climate change. The second instalment will concentrate on the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to them, while the third will examine ways to curb the warming.

The report will also explain why global temperatures, while still increasing, have risen more slowly since the late 1990s despite accelerating increases in the greenhouse gas emissions widely thought to be responsible for climate change.

The draft report says there is “medium confidence” that the slowing of the temperature rise is “due in roughly equal measure” to natural variations in the weather and to other factors affecting energy reaching the earth’s surface. Other factors include an increase in the amount of heat being absorbed by deep oceans.

As with the other IPCC reports, AR5 will be a synthesis of the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers from the past few years. It comes at a crucial time in global climate change politics since it will be the last IPPC report published before the Paris summit in 2015, when the world’s governments have pledged to reach hugely-ambitious and legally-binding targets to reduce their emissions in a bid to limit global warming to 2C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The report’s authors are being extra cautious with this report after climate sceptics seized on a number of errors in the previous assessment to bolster their case that climate change is greatly exaggerated. The errors included the suggestion that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

The key phrase on the likely human influence on climate change in the draft of the latest IPCC assessment strengthens that of 2007’s fourth assessment, which said that “Evidence of the effect of external influences… on the climate system has continued to accumulate since TAR [Third assessment report in 2001]”.

TAR, in turn, concluded in 2001 that “there is new and stronger evidence [than in 1995] that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”. The second assessment report in 1995 said: “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album