10 Aug 2015

IPCC empathetic on Pacific climate threat

4:33 pm on 10 August 2015

A member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says he understands the frustrations of Pacific Island states who are facing the consequences of sealevel rise.

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele has been a vice-chair of the IPCC for seven years and is now running for the role of chair, to succeed Dr Rajendra Pachauri who stepped down in February.

Speaking in New Zealand during a flying visit, Mr van Ypersele said that developed countries have the power to reduce the rate of global warming, and expressed confidence that change can be achieved:

"If enough political will at the international level is put on the table. But I understand on the other hand the frustrations of Pacific Island states because they see the level increasing a few milimetres per year - about three milimetres these days - and they feel threatened and understandably so by that sea level rise."

However, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele admits it is too late to stop the rise in sea levels in the coming decades.

"But it's not to late to avoid the most extreme levels that could happen at the end of the century. In other words, the choices that we made in the coming few decades in terms of greenhouse gas emissions will make a difference for sea level rise and the fate of those countries by the end of the century. It is possible to change course."

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele

Funafuti's oceanside shoreline, Tuvalu

Funafuti's oceanside shoreline, Tuvalu Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

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