The IPCC assessment process is widely referred to as reflecting a consensus of the scientific community. An AP news story reports on a leaked copy of the forthcoming Working Group III report on mitigation.
“Governments, businesses and individuals all need to be pulling in the same direction,” said British researcher Rachel Warren, one of the report’s authors.
For one thing, the governments of such major emitters as the United States, China and India will have to join the Kyoto Protocol countries of Europe and Japan in imposing cutbacks in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases emitted by industry, power plants and other sources.
The Bush administration rejected the protocol’s mandatory cuts, contending they would slow U.S. economic growth too much. China and other poorer developing countries were exempted from the 1997 pact, but most expected growth in greenhouse emissions will come from the developing world.
The draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose final version is to be issued in Bangkok on May 4, says emissions can be cut below current levels if the world shifts away from carbon-heavy fuels like coal, embraces energy efficiency and significantly reduces deforestation.
“The opportunities, the technology are there and now it’s a case of encouraging the increased use of these technologies,” said International Energy Agency analyst Ralph Sims, another of the 33 scientists who drafted the report.
As we’ve often discussed here, human-caused climate change is a serious problem requiring attention to both mitigation and adaptation. While I can make sense of a consensus among Working Group I scientists on causes and consequences of climate change, and even a consensus among Working Group II on impacts, how should we interpret a “consensus” among 33 authors recommending specific political actions? All of the movement toward the “democratization of science” and “stakeholder involvement” and “public participation” that characterizes science and technology issues ranging from GMOs to nanotechnology to nuclear waste disposal seems oddly absent in the climate issue in favor of a far more technocratic model of decision making. Is climate change somehow different?