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Scientific Congress Discusses Latest Updates to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions

10 March 2009: An international scientific congress titled “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions,” organized by the International Alliance of Research Universities, began on 10 March and will run until 12 March 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The congress is being hosted by the University of Copenhagen and attended by over 2,000 participants from around 80 countries.

The main aim of the congress is to provide a synthesis of existing and emerging scientific knowledge necessary to make societal decisions concerning the application of mitigation and adaptation strategies in response to climate change. The event will 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.

Research presented on the first day at the Congress shows that the upper range of sea level rise by 2100 could be in the range of about one meter, or possibly more. This is higher than IPCC projections from 2007 of 18-59 centimeters, which did not include contributions of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica due to uncertainties.

Other scientific findings presented at the congress show that, with adequate financial and political support, renewable energy technologies such as wind and photovoltaics could supply 40% of the world's electricity by 2050 compared to previous estimates of 12% by 2030.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research presented a new model for predicting impacts of climate change on agriculture and identifying opportunities for adaptation. The model, named Ecocrop, reveals the suitability of different agricultural species for production under changing climatic conditions. While the model predicts an increase of suitability on a global level, regions such as Eastern Brazil, the Sahel, South Asia and the Mediterranean could lose up to half of their crop species as climatic conditions become unsuitable.

At the opening session of the conference it was also announced that Rajendra K. Pachauri, the IPCC Chair, will lead the newly established Yale Climate and Energy Institute.

The outcome of the Congress will be summed up in a report that will be forwarded to negotiators in preparation for the UNFCCC conference in December. [Congress Website] [Congress Press Release] [Yale Press Release] [Bioversity International Press Release]