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Item #d96jan86

The IPCC completed preparation of its 1995 Second Assessment Report at a December meeting in Rome. The real work of the meeting was hammering out the precise wording of the 22-page synthesis document, which summarizes the several-thousand-page full assessment that consists of contributions from three working groups: science; impacts and response strategies; and economics and social dimensions. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 3-4, Jan. 10, 1996.)

According to a feature article in Global Environ. Change Rep. (pp. 1-3, Dec. 22), observers felt that some statements have been weakened compared to earlier drafts or to the working group summaries. A list of nine possible policy options for reducing emissions had been included in an earlier draft but are omitted, due in part to the efforts of some U.S. participants (Nature, p. 759, Dec. 21-28).

Nevertheless, the final version of the synthesis concludes that failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions will result in dangerous changes to the environment such as sea level rise, desertification, reduced biodiversity, and the spread of disease. It argues for the need to limit the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and outlines approaches for doing this, involving increased energy efficiency, changes in fuels and energy sources, and measures such as tree planting.

The synthesis and the three working group summaries can be obtained from the IPCC Secretariat, World Meteor. Organiz., CP 2300, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switz. (tel: 41 22 730 8215; fax: 41 22 733 1270). They are also available on the World Wide Web at Cambridge University Press will publish the full assessment in 1996. Brief articles on the synthesis appear in New Scientist (p. 5, Dec. 23-30, 1995), and Chem. & Industry (p. 1001, Dec. 18, 1995).

See also:

"Valuing Climate Change," D. Pearce, Chem. & Industry, p. 1024, Dec. 18, 1995. Comment explaining and defending the approach taken by Working Group III in its controversial determination of the value of a statistical human life in developing and developed countries. (See Global Climate Change Digest News, Dec. 1995)

"Global Warming Rows," Nature, p. 322, Nov. 23, 1995. Editorial which first reiterates Nature's long held position: that the likelihood of greenhouse warming is high enough to "demand great things of politicians." Goes on to explain how the IPCC invites trouble by being both a quasi-judicial body, reviewing the published literature, and one that is meant to galvanize governments into action through its executive summaries. It would be in everyone's interest for the IPCC to reorganize and suspend all working groups but the one on science.

"Energy Versus the Environment," R. Lukman, Chem. & Industry, p. 940, Nov. 20, 1995. Explains the position of OPEC regarding the climate convention, arguing for restructuring the energy tax system in consuming countries to reflect genuine environmental objectives.

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