‘We don't have any time to lose’: Climate change report shows global action is more urgent than previously thought

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Paul Souders
© GettyImages/Paul Souders

Related tags: Climate change, drought, Livestock, IPCC

A publication released this week by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds climate related impacts are already hitting hard.

"The extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments."

The Sixth IPCC Assessment Report ​notes the increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, storms and floods.

And the people and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, it stressed.

Changes in temperature, rainfall, and extreme weather have increased the regularity and spread of diseases in wildlife, agriculture, and people, reads the document.

Accelerated action needed 

While the report looks at the causes, and impacts of climate change, it is also focused on solutions.

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure, the IPCC says ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time making rapid, deep cuts in GHG emissions. “It is clear now that minor, marginal, reactive or incremental changes won’t be sufficient.”

An overall increase in climate resilience, said the experts, requires two combined sets of actions: first, a wide range of actions that reduce human-induced greenhouse gas emissions drastically; secondly, a similarly wide range of actions that puts human society on the path of sustainable development.

Crop and livestock diversification, restoring degraded ecosystems

It suggests that farmers could increase their businesses’ climate resilience by diversifying their crops and livestock, by planting trees and bushes on the fields for shade and organic manure, and by increasing soil health.

IPCC Working Group II co-chair, Hans-Otto Pörtner, commented: “By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50% 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.”

Sufficient funding, technology transfer, political commitment and partnership lead to more effective climate change adaptation and emissions reductions, he said.

“Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future,”​ added Pörtner.

Governments, the private sector, and civil society needs to work together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment, according to Debra Roberts, another IPCC Working Group II co-chair.

“Failure to achieve climate resilient and sustainable development will result in a sub-optimal future for people and nature,”​ she warned.

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