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Crucial UN report on climate change to be released in Japan on Monday

NEW DELHI: A UN panel will on Monday come out with its much-awaited report, assessing region-specific impacts of climate change on human settlements, natural resources including drinking water and food-grain production, in Yokohama, Japan.

The panel, comprising hundreds of scientists and government representatives from across the globe, on Saturday finalized its report after a marathon five-day long meeting.

Though a 'leaked' draft of this report - which first appeared in The Guardian in UK - took the suspense out of this process, findings of this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) still have potential to jolt the policymakers across the world.

Besides predicting displacement of millions of people from low lying areas and wiping off trillions of dollars from the global economy, experts may also forecast increasing risk of violent human conflict in many parts of the world due to tremendous pressure on available resources including drinking water.

"This report will, for the first time, look at the effects of climate change as a series of risks - with those risks multiplying as temperatures warm", said The Guardian.

Chris Field, co-chair of Working Group II of the IPCC, too had articulated this and its importance on the occasion of the beginning of scrutiny round of the report in Yokohama on March 25.

He said, "This report considers consequences of climate changes that have already occurred and the risks across a range of possible futures. It considers every region and many sectors, ranging from oceans to human security".

Field also emphasized that "the focus (of this report) is as much on identifying effective responses as on understanding challenges".

According to 'leaked' draft of the report, the experts will predict severe impacts of global warming on food-grain production, fresh-water resources and human settlements across the globe with Asia facing the brunt of it. They will predict that the climate change will reduce median yields by up to 2% per decade for the rest of the 21st century, against a backdrop of rising demand of food-grains by 14% per decade until 2050.

They may also come out with the findings on the status of Himalayan glaciers. Unlike the 2007 IPCC report which had initially wrongly predicted that all Himalayan ice might melt by 2035, the experts this time may talk in specifics predicting the loss to the extent of 29% by 2035.

Certain media reports, while referring to sub-chapters of the leaked draft ahead of the Yokohama round, mentioned about the projection which may range from 2% gain to a 29% loss by 2035 - affecting the available fresh-water resources in India and China or affecting weather in that part of the globe.

Just to avoid a blunder of 2007 which was subsequently corrected by issuing an 'errata', the experts this time are learnt to have scrutinized every word of the upcoming report which is part two (WR-II) of a four-part assessment. The first part, which had come out in September last year, dealt with the "physical science basis of climate change", citing "unequivocal" evidence that humans are the dominant cause of global warming.

The third report (WR-III), assessing mitigation of climate change, will be finalized next month whereas the final report will be completed as a synthesis document in October. All these findings of the panel will lay a perfect ground for negotiators from across the globe who, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have been working to bring out a universal climate deal in Paris in 2015.

IPCC chairman, R K Pachauri, had summed up the efforts during his Yokohama address. He said that the timing and contents of the assessment report (AR5) ensure that "there would be adequate attention given to the findings brought out by the IPCC for facilitating an appropriate conclusion to the current round of negotiations under the Convention".

The Times of India (29-03-2014)