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The Tar Island facility located at the Athabaska Oil Sands north of Fort McMurray, Alta., Aug. 31/2010. Environmentalists have cited the tar-sands development as one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions contributing to climate change.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

A new report on climate change, which said leading scientists are more certain than ever that humankind is the main culprit behind global warming, has sparked intense reaction.

Here's a sampling:

Canadian reaction:

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In responding to the report, the federal Conservatives took aim at their political opponents, saying previous Liberal governments did nothing and New Democrats want to kill jobs with a cap-and-trade system.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said Canada is playing a leadership role in addressing climate change, even though independent reports show the country is not on track to meet its international emissions reductions target.

"As an Arctic nation, Canada has been playing a leadership role in addressing climate change," she said in a statement. "Our government has already taken action on two of the largest sources of emissions – namely transportation and coal-fired electricity. In fact, we were the first country to phase out traditional coal power generation. These actions are benefiting Canadians and their families."

The Ontario government called climate change "a defining issue of our time," but said it needed time to review the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"The ministry will review IPCC's report and see how it may help inform the way we adapt to the changes we are seeing in Ontario, and how we can effectively contribute to global efforts to reduce emissions," said Lyndsay Miller, press secretary for Environment Minister Jim Bradley.

International reaction:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the study was a call for governments, many of which have been focused on spurring weak growth rather than fighting climate change, to work to agree on a planned UN accord in 2015 to combat global warming.

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"The heat is on. Now we must act," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the report "yet another wake-up call."

"Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire," he said in a statement, referring to skeptics who question the need for urgent action.

European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said it was time to treat the Earth's health.

"If your doctor was 95 per cent sure you had a serious disease, you would immediately start looking for the cure," she said.

Activists' reaction:

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The David Suzuki Foundation called on Canadians to support taking urgent action to combat climate change, noting recent floods in Calgary and Toronto.

"This shows how vulnerable our communities are if climate change is allowed to intensify," said Ian Bruce, the group's science and policy manager. "The IPCC report suggests that if we continue with business as usual in terms of rising carbon emissions, we will become even more vulnerable. But the report says we still have a choice; we can act to reverse the trend in emissions growth."

Samantha Smith of the World Wildlife Fund said: "There are few surprises in this report but the increase in the confidence around many observations just validates what we are seeing happening around us."

"Scientists have confirmed what farmers in poor countries around the world have been telling us for years – that changes to their climate are destroying their livelihoods, ruining crops, hitting incomes, food quality and often their family's health," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the charity Oxfam.

Skeptics' reaction:

"No one should trust the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued today," said Bob Carter of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition. "The IPCC has a history of malfeasance that even includes rewording recommendations of expert science advisers to fit the alarmist agenda of participating governments."

With reports from Reuters, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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