Comment on IPCC report

Latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns of 'grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet'

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By George Smeeton

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Below are comments on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) analysis, the IPCC Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability:

Gareth Redmond-King, International Lead at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said:

"Adapting to more frequent and intense flooding, wildfires and heatwaves, as well as sea-level rise, drought and crop failures has its limits. If there’s one clear message that this whole report implies, it is that we have to stop adding to the problem, we have to reach net zero emissions, or the impacts will increasingly overwhelm our capacity to adapt to them."

Reflecting on geopolitical instability and other global crises, Prof. Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero at the University of Cambridge said:

“It is important to recognise climate change is one of the most predictable, but also one of the most preventable global crises. [The current international situation] reminds us just how fragile the geopolitics of the world can be, and how they can suddenly change so very dramatically. Climate change can drive migration, but also can be a key driver of some of the root causes of conflict, both within countries and between countries.

“It feels as though, when we’ve come through a pandemic, now more than ever, we really should be looking to how we can address that predictable and avoidable risk, to reduce our overall global threats. So, if there’s good news, it’s that solutions exist that, if implemented in a thoughtful way, really could have multiple benefits. And the reverse of cascading risks is that you have cascading opportunities, where all these systems interconnect, and you can create a more robust and resilient overall system.”

Commenting on the need for finance to support developed countries’ ability to adapt to worsening climate impacts, Prof. Dr Camilla Toulmin, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Environment & Development (IIED) said:

“Financial support for developing countries is vital for their adaptation efforts, but international climate finance is still critically insufficient. At COP26, developed countries failed to mobilise the $100 billion each year for climate finance which had been agreed in 2009. They also failed to get anywhere close to the 50/50 split between adaptation funding and mitigation that was called for in the Paris Agreement in 2015; adaptation finance is currently only 7% of global climate financing.”

Commenting on the interactions between climate action and nature, Prof. Dr Kate Jones, Chair of Ecology & Biodiversity, University College London (UCL) said:

“The pandemic really brought home the interaction between how global biodiversity loss and land-use change meant we’re in closer contact with other species, and then we have these zoonotic leaps of diseases into human populations. All of this builds a growing appreciation that we need to think about this holistically – that human health and wellbeing is intimately connected to natural health. That’s one of the positive messages from the report: that some of the solutions are to do with restoring nature and natural ecosystems.”

Commenting on the risk of climate impacts forcing people from their homes, as they drive greater conflict and make parts of the world uninhabitable, Prof. Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London, said:

“Impacts from forced migration, both on receiving countries and refugees themselves, are extreme. … If we start to see the same mass migrations from climate [as we have seen from conflict], we’re going to see the same problems, with big effects on the health and wellbeing of migrants themselves, and real burdens on the host countries [which are] often not rich countries. That’s going to have long-term impacts – on children raised in those conditions, on education, on their development, on economic opportunities, on family structures, on cultures.”

Speaking about unequal impacts of climate change, Michael Marmot said:

“The effects of climate change are unequally distributed. When a hurricane hit Puerto Rico, the poorer people were, the higher the mortality risk. If climate increases severity and frequency of hurricanes, it impacts poor people more than rich people. When it comes to rising temperatures in Europe, poorer people, living in areas of low social capital are more likely to succumb to effects of excessive heat, floods, wildfires. Those extreme events, that are increased in frequency because of climate change, will have an impact differentially – globally, and within countries.”