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Scientific Congress Delivers Preliminary Conclusions on the Latest Science of Climate Change Since IPCC’s Last Assessment Report

12 March 2009: The international scientific congress titled “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions” took place from 10-12 March 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was organized by the International Alliance of Research Universities and attended by over 2,000 participants from around 80 countries. The main aim of the congress was to provide a summary of existing scientific knowledge two years after the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released and in the run-up to the UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The preliminary conclusions of the Congress contain six messages concerning: climatic trends, social disruption, long-term strategy, equity dimensions, consequences of inaction, and meeting the challenge.

In particular, the congress concluded that, according to recent observations and given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realized. Temperature rises above two degrees Celsius will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and will increase the level of climate disruption through the rest of the century.

Another message from the congress is that rapid, sustained and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid “dangerous climate change” regardless of how it is defined. Also, an effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable.

The preliminary conclusions of the congress will be developed in a synthesis report to be published in June and forwarded to participants at the UN Climate Change Conference in December in Copenhagen. [Congress Website] [Congress Press Release]