Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people though efforts are on to reduce the risks, said the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
In the report, the scientists said that people and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit.
Stressing that the report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction, IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said, ” it shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group II report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was approved on February 27 by 195 member governments of the IPCC.
Meanwhile, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen said, “this new IPCC report comes out at a time of great turmoil, when we need strong multilateralism to promote peace and a healthy environment. And the message this report sends is clear. Climate change is not lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce. It is already upon us, raining down blows on billions of people.
She further said; ” In climate risk hotspots, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher than those in more resilient countries over the last decade. This is climate injustice, particularly for indigenous peoples and local communities. All of this, and more, at only 1.1 degrees Celsius of global warming. Even if we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the blows will come harder and faster. As things stand, we are heading for closer to 3 degrees Celsius. We are in an emergency, heading for a disaster.”
“We need large-scale ecosystem restoration from ocean to mountaintop – including through agreeing to start negotiations on a global plastic pollution agreement at the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly. We need to bring nature into baking hot cities to keep them cool. We need to conserve mangroves, coral reefs and nature’s other defences. We need to protect and restore wetlands for nature and incorporate wetlands in our cities,” she said.
URGENT ACTION REQUIRED
The report states that increased heat waves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants and animals tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. “These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic,” the report said.
The IPCC says that accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure. However, it stated that progress on adaptation is so far uneven and “there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks, the new report finds. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations.”
Meanwhile, UN general Secretary António Guterres in a tweet said, “I’ve seen many reports, but nothing like the new @IPCC_CH climate report, an atlas of human suffering & damning indictment of failed climate leadership. I know people everywhere are anxious & angry. I am, too. It is time to turn rage into #ClimateAction. https://ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/”
The Working Group II report is the second instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year. This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,” said Hoesung Lee. “It emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option.”
SAFEGUARDING AND STRENGTHENING NATURE
The IPCC report provides new insights into nature’s potential not only to reduce climate risks but also to improve people’s lives.
Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water”, said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner. “By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 per cent of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.”
“Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.
“In this way, different interests, values and world views can be reconciled. By bringing together scientific and technological knowhow as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, solutions will be more effective. Failure to achieve climate resilient and sustainable development will result in a sub-optimal future for people and nature,” he said.
CITIES: HOTSPOTS OF IMPACTS AND RISKS
The report looks into climate change impacts, risks and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives. Debra Roberts said, “Together, growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services.”
“But cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society,” Roberts said. The report also talks of increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
WINDOW FOR ACTION
The report clearly states Climate Resilient Development is already challenging at current warming levels. It will become more limited if global warming exceeds 1.5°C (2.7°F). In some regions, it will be impossible if global warming exceeds 2°C (3.6°F). This key finding underlines the urgency for climate action, focusing on equity and justice. Adequate funding, technology transfer, political commitment and partnership lead to more effective climate change adaptation and emissions reductions.
Working Group II report
The report examines the impacts of climate change on nature and people around the globe. It explores future impacts at different levels of warming and the resulting risks and offers options to strengthen nature’s and society’s resilience to ongoing climate change, to fight hunger, poverty, and inequality and keep Earth a place worth living on – for current as well as for future generations. Working Group II introduces several new components in its latest report: One is a special section on climate change impacts, risks and options to act for cities and settlements by the sea, tropical forests, mountains, biodiversity hotspots, dry land and deserts, the Mediterranean as well as the Polar Regions. Another is an atlas that will present data and findings on observed and projected climate change impacts and risks from global to regional scales, thus offering even more insights for decision makers.