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'Climate Change: A Risk Assessment' Report Launched
13 Jul 2015

An international group of climate scientists, energy analysts, and experts in risk from finance and the military today released a new independent assessment of the risks of climate change, designed to support political leaders, businesses and financial markets in their decisions on how much priority to give to the issue. The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office commissioned this report. The authors have written it in their independent capacity.

This first-of-its-kind multi-country assessment applies the principles of risk assessment used in finance and national security to better understand and communicate the risks of climate change. The assessment considers three key areas: the future pathway of global emissions; the direct risks arising from the climate’s response to those emissions; and the risks arising from the interaction of climate change with complex human systems.

Speaking at the report launch, Mr S. Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Agency and National Skill Development Corporation, said, “The launch of this report could not have found a more appropriate venue than the BSE, the nerve centre of the Indian economy. Today, we face high human, economic and ecological vulnerabilities thanks to climate change. It is critical for us to understand that the risks of climate change are non-linear: while average conditions may change gradually, the risks can increase rapidly. On a high carbon emissions pathway, the probability of crossing thresholds beyond which the inconvenient may become intolerable will increase over time.”

Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water and one of the lead co-authors of the report said, “The most important decision any government has to make about climate change is one of priority: how much effort to expend on countering it, relative to the effort that must be spent on other issues. This risk assessment aims to inform that decision. In a year when important climate negotiations are scheduled, this kind of multi-country risk assessment hopes to inform a wide range of stakeholders about the risks for which human societies need to prepare.”

This report was the result of a collaboration between Harvard University Center for the Environment, Tsinghua University, China, the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (one of India's leading think-tanks), and Cambridge University Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. Numerous experts from the fields of climate science, energy technology, water, food and agriculture, health, finance, accounting, insurance, and defence and national security were drawn into the process (through meetings, workshops, wargaming, scenario planning) from November 2014 to April 2015. Meetings were held in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Beijing, New Delhi, and London.

The report recommends applying the principles of risk assessment to climate change, broadening participation in the climate risk assessment process (beyond just climate scientists) and reporting to the highest decision making authorities at the national and international levels.

Read Report - Climate Change: A Risk Assessment

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