A view from the United Nations Climate Change Conference

Top University of Exeter climate scientist Mat Collins was at the the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland. He gives us his view of proceedings…

Mat’s view of the conference.

We have just finished our ‘side event’ at the 19th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP19) meeting. The COP conferences are the meetings in with the politics of climate change are discussed and international agreements are made, or not made.

I was speaking at an event highlighting some of the conclusions of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5 IPCC), of which I was the lead author of the chapter on climate projections.

The session was focussed on some of the regional aspects of climate change and how they are interpreted and used by governments, businesses and NGOs.

The AR5 report says quite a bit about global warming, the likelihood of crossing global temperature thresholds, near-term changes in temperature, global sea level rise etc. But it is much harder to make projections of regional climate change. This is because regional climate is more affected by natural fluctuations in climate, changes in circulation and local feedbacks that are uncertain.

The IPCC AR5 contains an annex in which presents pictures of regional temperature and rainfall changes as simulated by different climate models.

This Atlas is designed to give some basic information about regional climate change that is backed up with text and assessment from various chapters in the main report. For example, figures of rainfall change in Indian region can be linked to a section that discusses the potential for a strengthening India Monsoon in the future. My talk mainly focussed on this Atlas.

The side event was well attended so it seems that there is still a need to communicate the results of our research into climate change.

A related side event, on current CO2 emissions was held yesterday and included a talk from my Exeter colleague, Prof Pierre Friedlingstein.

In terms of the political negotiations, it is difficult to find out what is going on. But it seems from the media coverage that there is not much progress. There is still plenty of climate science to do, but we know enough about global change to warrant these negotiations.

You can follow Mat on Twitter @Mat_Collins

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