Today the Climate Commission released its report The Critical Decade looking at the evidence for climate change and what we need to do in response.

For those still debating whether climate change is for real, the report answers questions such as

Are we confident enough about:
(i) our understanding of the climate system,
(ii) the human influence on climate, and
(iii) the consequences of contemporary climate change for societies and ecosystems to provide a reliable knowledge base on which to base policy and economic responses?

One of the report’s main messages is that

This is the critical decade. Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren experience.

It refers to a 2 degrees Celsius ‘guardrail’ and identifies that once we go over this temperature increase we are in the territory of “dangerous” climate change. Currently we are well on track to striking and tipping over this ‘guardrail’.

In response it suggests a ‘budget’ approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, if we wish to have a 75% chance of observing the 2 °C guardrail, we can emit no more than 1000 Gt (one trillion tonnes) of CO2 in the period from 2000 to 2050.

Finally it states that if the 2 degree guardrail is to be achieved then there is no time for delay in investing in low and no-carbon technologies for energy generation, built infrastructure and transport.

So what is our response going to be in this ‘critical decade’ and do we really care enough about future generations to get into gear and meaningfully respond?

For more information on the report and the Climate Commission see http://climatecommission.govspace.gov.au/2011/05/23/the-critical-decade/

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