International Climate Change Congress Begins in Copenhagen

Today sees the start of an international scientific congress in Copenhagen which aims to pave the way for talks to determine the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Climate researchers from around the world will gather in Denmark over the next two days to present the results of their studies. The outputs from the conference will be turned into a book, which will be presented to policy-makers at the UN Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The conference aims to provide an update on the scientific position with respect to climate change, two years after the publication of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as act as a stimulus to policy-makers to take action. Many scientists see policy-makers as slow to react, given the growing body of evidence suggesting the severity of climate change impacts which can be expected in the future.

The Guardian reports today that three researchers from Bristol University will this afternoon reveal results at the conference showing that ocean acidifcation is occurring at an unprecedented rate, comparable to the effects of a mass-release of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere 65 million years ago. This caused mass extinction in the deep ocean and the researchers conclude that it is ‘more likely’ than not that this will be seen once more if ocean acidification continues at the current pace. They say that future deep sea acidification must be limited to 0.2pH units if such significant extinction is to be avoided.

Other scientists at the conference are expected to outline their projections for sea-level rise. The IPCC report is widely seen to have underestimated the impact of the melting of the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets on sea-level rise as results and models concerning this were poor at the time of the panel’s consideration. Now that further experiments and observations have been done, some scientists project that sea-level will increase by 1m by 2100, causing mass devastation across many of the coastal and low-lying parts of the world.

For more information see the official website of the Climate Congress.
See the Guardian and Observer for further details of announcements expected at the Congress.