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Climate science – influencing policy

Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change

Many of the statements in the internationally recognised Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are underpinned by BAS research.  IPCC reports are the authoritative consensus of climate scientists, and are accepted by 120 governments.  The reports are valued as the source of policy advice on climate change.

Through its involvement in this activity BAS influences thinking about the wide-ranging implications for economic and societal well-being, which leads to direct impact on international agreements and legislation.

The high-level Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), which was approved line-by-line by governmental plenary, contains specific statements that  cite BAS research. For example:

  • TAR, WGII – “There is evidence from polar ice cores suggesting that atmospheric regimes can change within a few years and that large-scale hemispheric changes can evolve as fast as a few decades.”
  • TAR, WGII – “Polar regions contain important drivers of climate change. Once triggered, they may continue for centuries, long after greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilized, and cause irreversible impacts on ice sheets, global ocean circulation, and sea-level rise (medium confidence).”
  • AR4, WGI – “The corresponding increased ice sheet mass loss has often followed thinning, reduction or loss of ice shelves or loss of floating glacier tongues”
  • AR4, WGII – “In both polar regions, specific ecosystems and habitats are projected to be vulnerable, as climatic barriers to species invasions are lowered.”

This contribution to understanding of the Earth’s climate system, and its vulnerability to human influence, has led directly to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and agreements reached at its annual meetings (COP); in Europe with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, in the UK, the Climate Change Act 2008, and Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which emplace actions on climate change and emissions targets into UK law.