benchThis week, the UN submitted a draft of its latest climate change report to delegates from over 100 countries. The delegates have gathered in Copenhagen and will remain there until the end of this month as they discuss the report, which will provide a guiding basis for next year’s major climate change summit in Paris. 

A previous 127-page draft of the report was leaked to the press in August. The tone was notably starker and more urgent than previous international climate change analyses:

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.” 

The report has been assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from three major scientific reports that have been published since September of last year. The IPCC has, most notably, stated that the effects of man-made emissions on the atmosphere are almost certainly the root of climate change. In 2002, the Panel estimated that the burning of fossil fuels and other anthropogenic activities constituted 66 percent of the root. In 2007, that jumped to 90 percent. Today, the IPCC states that it is 95 percent that man-made activities are causing climate change and that they are “increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

The final version of the report will be published on November 2. Until that time, the myriad countries represented in Copenhagen will be allowed to comment and suggest changes to the report. Thus far, over 2,000 comments have been submitted. Reuters reports that the European Union has asked the IPCC to add a passage that states that the global dangers posed by climate change mean “all regions are affected, regardless of wealth.”

According to Reuters, the United States has asked for clarification on the word “irreversible.”

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