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20 September 2010

German-led research tackles climate sceptics head on

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In an attempt to rebalance the debate on global warming, the German research branch of Deutsche Bank has commissioned a report that refutes the claims of climate sceptics
The report, authored by researchers at the Columbia University's Earth Institute, defuses "misconceptions" that can hinder investment in the green economy, which can help tackle climate change.

The report lists twelve oft-made arguments against climate change, such as global average temperatures are not rising, climate researchers are engaged in a conspiracy and water vapour is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. They then address each issue with scientific evidence to the contrary.

"The paper's clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the sceptics do not undermine the assertion that human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long-term threat," said Mark Fulton, who heads the bank's Climate Change Investment Research arm.

The report argues that while it is true that science is not settled on the specific dynamics of the climate system, the role of CO2 as a driver of global warming is manifest in an increasing body of research. The latest 'State of the Climate' report, published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for instance, said that global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures have been progressively warmer during the last three decades than all previous decades (EurActiv 30/07/10).

Deutsche Bank is one of the big players in climate investment, with some €7 billion of its portfolio dedicated to climate funds. It targeted the report at its investors, who make decisions based on the available science.

"Due to the persistence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the lag in response of the climate system, there is a very high probability that we are already heading towards a future where warming will persist for thousands of years," argued Fulton. "Failing to insure against that high probability does not seem a gamble worth taking."

Climate scepticism has come to the surface after leaked letters from the University of East Anglia were used as evidence that top scientists had colluded to manipulate data to dramatic effect in influential reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


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