Thursday, October 24, 2013

5th IPCC report: what's in it for climate change litigation?

Chart containing estimated likelihood of human contribution affecting 
climate change events 
The first part of the 5th IPCC report has been released in the 2nd half of September 2013. It is aiming at indicating the big trends for policy makers. We checked whether some conclusions can be drawn from the first published part for climate change litigation and, more precisely, private law climate change compensation claims.

We start the lecture with the annexes as they contain more precise information. The report makes, in an annexed chart on page 23, assessments on the likelihood of various types of weather and climate modifications (a) to take place and (b) to be attributable to mankind. The report says that the temperature increase is very likely to be attributed to mankind. The higher magnitude and frequency of extreme high sea levels is likely to be attributed to mankind. For heat waves, scientists have only a medium confidence that they really occur more frequently on a global scale, but the likelihood is higher in certain regions. As to the attributability, it is said to be likely. This means that only for certain regions damages due to heatwaves can with likelihood be linked to man-made climate change. For other types of weather and climate modifications than those listed so far, there is even less likelihood regarding occurrence and attributability to mankind.

In the footnotes l and m to that chart (on page 24) and in the chart on the next page of that report (on page 25) there are statements on the average rise of the mean sea level. The IPCC says the sea level rise to be very likely. It indicates a range as to the magnitude of the likely future sea level rise. The rise of the mean sea level and the equally evident melt of ice are both also extensively dealt with in the core text from page 3 onwards. The IPCC report can thus well be used to underpin damages directly linked to the rise of the mean sea level (like loss of land in deltas) and damages linked to the melting of ice or higher temperatures in general. The generally higher temperatures are dealt with on many pages across the report.

The overall trend and findings of this report can best be resumed by the following quote of page 12:
“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes” 
 (see the charts referred to above on page 24 of IPCC report).
“This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4”
 (AR = Assessment Report).
“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

Read the full report here:

Related: NGO CDP disclosing data on the CO2 footprint of 500 big companies

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