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IPCC report warns of unavoidable multiple climate hazards

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    9th Mar, 2022

Context

Recently second part of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report which talks about climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and adaptation options has been released.

  • The first part, centered around climate change’ scientific basis, was released last August. The third instalment, set to come out in April, will look into the possibilities of reducing emissions.

Background

  • The Assessment Reports, the first of which was in 1990, are the most comprehensive evaluations of the Earth’s climate.
  • Hundreds of experts go through every piece of relevant and published scientific information available to prepare a common understanding of climate change.
  • The four subsequent reports came out in 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2015. These are the basis of the global response on climate change.

Analysis

Key findings of the report:

  • Climate impacts are more widespread and severe than expected
  • Climate change is already causing widespread disruption in every region in the world with just 1.1 degrees C of warming.
  • Withering droughts, extreme heat and record floods already threaten food security and livelihoods for millions of people.
  • Worse impacts from climate change in the near-term
    • Even if the world rapidly decarbonizes, greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and current emissions trends will make some very significant climate impacts unavoidable through 2040.
    • The IPCC estimates that in the next decade alone, climate change will drive 32-132 million more people into extreme poverty.
    • Global warming will jeopardize food security, as well as increase the incidence of heat-related mortality, heart disease and mental health
  • Risks will escalate quickly with higher temperatures
  • The report finds that every tenth of a degree of additional warming will escalate threats to people, species and ecosystems.
  • Inequity, conflict and development challenges such as poverty, weak governance, and limited access to basic services like healthcare not only heighten sensitivity to hazards, but also constrain communities’ ability to adapt to climatic changes.
  • Even limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C— a global target in the Paris Climate Agreement — is not safe for all.

For instance, with just 1.5 degrees C of global warming:

  • Many glaciers around the world will either disappear completely or lose most of their mass;
  • An additional 350 million people will experience water scarcity by 2030;
  • As much as 14% of terrestrial species will face high risks of extinction.

Adaptation is crucial

  • Gaps in Adaptation: The report also highlights large gaps in the adaptation actions that are being taken and the efforts that are required. It says these gaps are a result of “lack of funding, political commitment, reliable information, and sense of urgency”.
  • Adaptation is essential to reduce harm, but if it is to be effective, it must go hand in hand with ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because with increased warming, the effectiveness of many adaptation options declines.
  • Feasible solutions already exist, but more support must reach vulnerable communities.
  • The IPCC estimates that adaptation needs will reach $127 billion and $295 billion per year for developing countries alone by 2030 and 2050, respectively.

Key findings with respect to India:

  • Over 3.5 billion people, over 45% of the global population, were living in areas highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • The report identifies India as one of the vulnerable hotspots, with several regions and important cities facing very high risk of climate disasters such as flooding, sea-level rise and heat-waves.
  • For example, Mumbai is at high risk of sea-level rise and flooding, while Ahmedabad faces serious danger of heat-waves.
  • The IPCC report has looked at the health impacts of climate change.
  • It has found that climate change is increasing vector-borne and water-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue, particularly in sub-tropical regions of Asia.
  • It has also said deaths related to circulatory, respiratory, diabetic and infectious diseases, as well as infant mortality, are likely to increase with a rise in temperature.
  • Increasing frequency of extreme weather events like heatwaves, flooding and drought, and even air pollution was contributing to under-nutrition, allergic diseases and even mental disorders.

About IPCC:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  • The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It aims to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
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