We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, with dire consequences looming
by World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), agencies
Biodiversity, the variety of all life on earth, is being lost at an alarming rate. Ecosystems, from forests and deserts to freshwater and oceans, are in steep decline. One million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Genetic diversity is disappearing.
Underpinning human well-being and livelihoods, biodiversity is the source of essential resources and ecosystem functions that sustain human life, including food production, purification of air and water, and climate stabilization. The planet’s life-support systems are at stake.
While a series of major global assessments provide the scientific basis of the urgent need to address biodiversity loss, policy action lags behind. None of the Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020 were achieved.
Held under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference is expected to set the level of ambition for the next decade and take strong action to reverse this trend. This includes addressing the root causes of biodiversity loss that are linked to economic priorities leading to inequitable and unsustainable development.
Biodiversity is essential for the processes that support all life on Earth, including humans. Without a wide range of animals, plants and microorganisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide us with the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
Some aspects of biodiversity are instinctively widely valued by people but the more we study biodiversity the more we see that all of it is important – even bugs and bacteria that we can’t see or may not like the look of. There are lots of ways that humans depend upon biodiversity and it is vital for us to conserve it.
Pollinators such as birds, bees and other insects are estimated to be responsible for a third of the world’s crop production. Without pollinators we would not have many of the foods we eat. Agriculture is also reliant upon invertebrates – they help to maintain the health of the soil crops grow in. Soil is teeming with microbes that are vital for liberating nutrients that plants need to grow, which are then also passed to us when we eat them.
Life from the oceans provides the main source of animal protein for many people. Trees, bushes and wetlands and wild grasslands naturally slow down water and help soil to absorb rainfall. When they are removed it can increase flooding.
Trees and other plants clean the air we breathe and help us tackle the global challenge of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. Coral reefs and mangrove forests act as natural defences protecting coastlines from waves and storms. Many of the medicines that we use in our daily lives originate from plants.
WWF: World must not miss its chance to secure a ‘Paris’-style agreement for nature at COP15
In the face of accelerating biodiversity loss and growing food insecurity, WWF is calling on national leaders to secure an ambitious global agreement to save our life support systems at the COP15 UN biodiversity conference in Montreal (7-19 December).
Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history.
“We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. We’ve lost half of the world’s warm water corals, and forests the size of roughly one football field vanish every two seconds. Wildlife populations have suffered a two-thirds decline globally in less than 50 years. The future of the natural world is on a knife’s edge”, says Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
“Nature holds the answers to many of the world’s most pressing challenges. Failure at COP15 is not an option. It would place us at increased risk from pandemics, exacerbate climate change making it impossible to limit global warming at 1.5C, and stunt economic growth – leaving the poorest people more vulnerable to food and water insecurity".
"To tackle the nature crisis, governments must agree on a nature-positive goal that unites the world in protecting more of the nature left on the planet while restoring as much as possible and transforming our productive sectors to work with nature, not against it. After many pledges and commitments it’s crunch time in Montreal for leaders to deliver for people and planet.”
WWF stresses the importance of countries agreeing to a goal of conserving at least 30% of the planet’s land, inland waters and oceans by 2030 through a rights-based approach that recognizes the leadership and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
At the same time, action is needed to ensure the remaining 70% of the planet is sustainably managed and restored – and this means addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss, with the same level of urgency. Science is clear that global production and consumption rates are completely unsustainable and are causing serious damage to the natural systems people rely on for their livelihoods and wellbeing.
WWF believes a commitment to half the global footprint of production and consumption by 2030, while recognising huge inequalities between and within countries, is desperately needed in the framework to ensure that key sectors, such as agriculture and food, fisheries, forestry, extractives and infrastructure, are transformed to help deliver a nature-positive world.
Despite a growing number of national leaders committing to secure a global biodiversity agreement, key issues remain unresolved, including how to mobilize the necessary finance. Currently, the biodiversity finance gap is estimated to be US$700 billion annually. WWF is calling for countries to substantially increase finance, including international public finance with developing countries as the beneficiaries, and align public and private financial flows with nature-positive practices, including through the elimination or repurposing of harmful subsidies and other incentives.
The talks are the finale to what has been an incredibly challenging four years of negotiations, with the pandemic delaying any agreement on the global biodiversity framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) until now.
“Leaders must send the message loud and clear that the existential nature crisis can, and must, be addressed. They must mandate their ministers and negotiators to translate existing commitments into ambition in the negotiation room and find common ground on issues such as finance. The June round of negotiations left the chances of an ambitious nature agreement on life-support but it can still be reached if all step up to the plate in Montreal,” says Lin Li, Senior Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International.
“In 2020, we saw the devastating results of the ten-year ‘Aichi Targets’ – the second consecutive decade in which the world failed to meet any global biodiversity targets. We cannot afford another lost decade for nature, which would be tantamount to dereliction of duty by governments and only cause more human suffering. This means negotiators coming to the table ready to sign up to a clear blueprint to deliver the necessary finance - with developed countries supporting the conservation efforts of developing countries - and a strong implementation mechanism to hold countries to account.”
WWF notes that a strong implementation mechanism which requires countries to review progress against targets and increase action as required is an essential mechanism to ensure real action is delivered on the ground.
WWF considers the below essential ingredients in an ambitious global biodiversity framework:
A mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for a nature-positive world; A goal to 30% of the planet’s land and water conserved by 2030 through a rights-based approach. A commitment to halve the world’s footprint of production and consumption by 2030.
A comprehensive resource mobilization strategy to finance implementation of the framework. A strong implementation mechanism which offers reviews and ratchets action over time, in the mold of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with agreed indicators to measure progress.
A rights-based approach, recognizing the leadership, rights, and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, and a whole of society approach, enabling participation of all sectors of society throughout the implementation of the framework. The inclusion of equitable and rights-based Nature-based Solutions alongside ecosystem-based approaches to deliver benefits for people and nature.
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Countries’ climate promises still not enough to avoid catastrophic global warming: UN Report
by UN News, UNEP, IPCC, agencies
20 Nov 2022
World still ‘on brink of climate catastrophe’ after Cop27 deal. (Guardian News, agencies)
The world still stands “on the brink of climate catastrophe” after the deal reached at the Cop27 UN climate summit on Sunday, climate experts and campaigners have warned.
The agreement reached in Sharm el-Sheikh early on Sunday morning, was hailed for providing poor countries for the first time with financial assistance known as loss and damage. A fund will be set up by rich governments for the rescue and rebuilding of vulnerable areas stricken by climate disaster, a key demand of developing nations for the last 30 years of climate talks. However, there is no agreement yet on how much money should be paid in, by whom, and on what basis.
The outcome of Cop27 was widely judged a failure on efforts to cut carbon dioxide, after oil-producing countries and high emitters weakened and removed key commitments on greenhouse gases and phasing out fossil fuels.
Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group of former world leaders, ex-president of Ireland and twice a UN climate envoy, said: “The world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe. Progress made on cutting emissions has been too slow. We are on the cusp of a clean energy world, but only if G20 leaders live up to their responsibilities, keep their word and strengthen their will. The onus is on them.”
Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the UN, warned: “Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this Cop did not address. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.”
Oil-producing countries had thwarted attempts to strengthen the deal, said Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, now chief executive of the European Climate Foundation. “The influence of the fossil fuel industry was found across the board,” she said. “This Cop has weakened requirements around countries making new and more ambitious commitments on cutting emissions. The text of the deal makes no mention of phasing out fossil fuels, and scant reference to the 1.5C target.”
She blamed the host country, Egypt, for allowing its regional alliances to sway the final decision, a claim denied by the hosts. Next year’s conference of the parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop) will take place in Dubai, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s biggest oil exporters.
Tubiana warned: “The Egyptian presidency produced a text that clearly protects oil and gas petro-states and the fossil fuel industries. This trend cannot continue in the UAE next year.”
At the talks, nearly 200 countries agreed that a fund for loss and damage, which would pay out to rescue and rebuild the physical and social infrastructure of vulnerable countries ravaged by extreme weather events, should be set up within the next year.
However, there is no agreement yet on how much money should be paid in, by whom, and on what basis. A key aim for the EU at the talks was to ensure that countries classed as developing in 1992 when the UNFCCC was signed – and thus given no obligations to act on emissions or provide funds to help others – are considered potential donors. These could include China, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and Russia. Under the final agreement, such countries can contribute on a voluntary basis.
China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, as well as the world’s second biggest economy, and comes second only to the US in cumulative historical emissions since the industrial revolution.
Several key climate commitments championed by the UK, which hosted last year’s Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, were dropped from the final deal, at the behest mainly of Saudi Arabia and other petro-states, though the Guardian understands that China, Russia and Brazil also played a role in weakening some aspects.
These included a target for global emissions to peak by 2025, in line with the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold of safety that was the focus of the Glasgow Climate Pact signed last year at Cop26.
Although the final text did include the commitment to limiting temperature rises to 1.5C, the language was regarded as weak and marking no progress on the outcome of Cop26 a year ago.
Alok Sharma, the UK’s Cop26 president was visibly angry at the close of the conference. “Those of us who came to Egypt to keep 1.5C alive, and to respect what every single one of us agreed to in Glasgow, have had to fight relentlessly to hold the line. We have had to battle to build on one of the key achievements of Glasgow, the call on parties to revisit and strengthen their national plans on emissions.”
In Glasgow, in the final moments a commitment to phase out coal was watered down by China and India to a phase down of coal. At Cop27, he joined with efforts to include a phase down of all fossil fuels in the text, but it was reduced in the final stages to a simple repetition of the Glasgow commitment to phase down coal.
Sharma listed commitments weakened or lost: “We joined with many parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to this. Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text. A commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text. And the energy text, weakened in the final minutes [to endorse “low-emissions energy”, which can be interpreted as a reference to gas].”
Meena Raman an adviser to developing countries, from the Third World Network said: “Since the EU and Alok Sharma are disappointed that fossil fuel phase-out is not in the text, we would like them to take leadership and revise their NDCs [nationally determined contributions] and put into plans their fossil fuel phase-out urgently and stop expansion of fossil fuels including oil and gas. If they really want to save the planet and not hide behind 2050 net zero targets, which will bust the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C.” http://bit.ly/3UVgZ6P
EU: COP27 agreement 'not enough' for the planet. (DW)
Climate talks in Egypt ended on Sunday with a deal that would see wealthy developed nations create a global fund for "loss and damage" to assist developing countries stricken by climate disaster. However, the COP27 UN summit failed to take action on cutting planet-heating emissions that cause climate change.
"What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said. He said the EU was "disappointed", adding that more than 80 nations had backed a stronger emissions pledge. "We should have done much more," Timmermans said.
Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock: "It is more than frustrating to see overdue steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil energies being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers".
The deal on loss and damage funding will be geared towards developing nations "that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change". A transitional committee will work out the details of the deal and report to next year's climate meeting in Dubai.
Small island nations facing a climate-driven rise celebrated the loss and damage deal but regretted the lack of ambition on curbing emissions. "I recognise the progress we made in COP27" in terms of establishing the fund, the Maldives climate minister, Aminath Shauna, said, but added "we have failed on mitigation ... We have to ensure that we increase ambition to peak emissions by 2025. We have to phase out fossil fuels."
The final COP27 statement maintains the commitment to limit global heating warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But instead of calling for a phase out of all polluting fossil fuels, the deal only reiterates language from last year's pact in Glasgow calling for a "phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies."
Even if all the pledges made so far are delivered, th world is still on track for an average rise of at least 2.7C this century, a recent UN report states. It would cause widespread drought, water scarcity, hunger and widespread coastal flooding.
UN chief Antonio Guterres described the creation of a loss and damage fund for developing countries as an important step for climate justice.
“But let’s be clear. Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address. A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition. The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5C degree temperature limit”.
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15 Nov. 2022
COP27: Negotiations are missing the ambition needed to protect those hardest hit by climate change, warns IFRC.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising concern that progress is stalling at COP27 and that there is a risk that the ambition to deliver and build on commitments made in Glasgow climate summit is slipping away.
With just a few days left for leaders to take decisive action on climate change, commitments to make steep and immediate emission reductions to stay below the 1.5C warming limit—and thus limit further human suffering—are falling behind.
And while negotiators are grappling with issues designed to limit and respond to the rising human impacts of climate change, technical discussions on delivering new and additional finance for loss and damage, as well as adaptation, are progressing too slowly to meet the needs of people.
Instead, the IFRC calls on Parties to raise ambition and action on mitigation, adaptation and on loss and damage.
“Combating the climate crisis and its effects takes more ambitious action. World leaders cannot afford downgrading, but must raise their level of ambition to tackle the climate crisis, which is already dangerous for communities around the globe,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC.
“Communities—especially those most impacted by climate change—need promises that deliver with new and additional support to meet the scale of needs,” remarked Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
This is the critical decade for action. The world cannot afford to stall or backtrack on lifesaving commitments. There is no time to delay. Already at 1.1C warming, IFRC found that 86% of all disasters in the last decade are linked to climate and weather extremes, affecting 1.7 billion people. Communities are being repeatedly hit by extreme events - such as Kenya, which faced floods then locusts and now a drought triggering food insecurity and leading to malnutrition and death across the horn of Africa.
“We must invest in local action. Without it, we will still be saying the same things at COP28,” reiterated Dr. Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross.
If we are to ever meet the needs of communities suffering these multiple repeated and overlapping events, it is essential to invest in ambitious mitigation, to scale up locally led adaptation and address losses and damages. Parties must respond to the growing demands for finance to reach the local level, reaching communities at the scale needed. These requests must be heard and translated into meaningful action.
Recent IFRC research demonstrates that many countries and communities are getting left behind when it comes to investment in climate adaptation. Existing funding is not enough to meet current needs, let alone the increased humanitarian impacts of more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate events.
According to Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, COP27 needs to deliver on three fronts: tangible progress on mobilizing new and additional funding to address loss and damage; more finance for climate adaptation; and increased ambition to implement rapid emission reductions to keep hopes of limiting warming to 1.5C alive.
Nov. 2022 (UN News, agencies)
The current combined National Determined Contributions (NDCs)—meaning the countries’ national efforts to tackle emissions and mitigate climate change—are leading our planet to at least 2.5 degrees warming, a level deemed catastrophic by scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 2019, the IPCC indicated that to curb global warming, CO2 emissions needed to be cut by 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, but current climate plans show a 10.6 per cent increase instead.
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change: “The science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world”, said.
Mr. Stiell underscored that national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them.
Last year, during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans, however, only 24 out of 193 nations submitted updated plans to the UN.
“It’s disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change”, highlighted the UN Climate Change chief.
UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres has warned of the dangers of climate breakdown. “Present policies on the climate will be absolutely catastrophic,” he said. “For the simple reason that we are approaching tipping points, and tipping points will make climate breakdown irreversible,” he said.
“That damage would not allow us to recover, and to contain temperature rises. And as we are approaching those tipping points, we need to increase the urgency, we need to increase the ambition".
Tipping points are thresholds within the climate system that lead to cascading impacts when tripped. They include the melting of permafrost, which releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that fuels further heating, and the point at which the drying Amazon rainforest switches from being an absorber to being a source of carbon, which scientists fear is fast approaching.
“We are getting close to tipping points that will create irreversible impacts, some of them difficult even to imagine,” he warned.
At last year’s summit in Glasgow, countries agreed to focus on limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but recent UN reports have shown that current policies would raise temperatures by a least 2.5C.
Mr. Guterres says there is only a slim chance of holding to the target. “We still have a chance but we are rapidly losing it,” he said. “I’d say the 1.5C is in intensive care. So either we act immediately and in a very strong way, or it’s lost and probably lost for ever.”
“The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity and a liveable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels, especially coal, and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition”, he said.
Let me be blunt: most national climate pledges are simply not good enough. This is not just my view. Science and public opinion are giving timid climate policies a giant fail mark.
“We are witnessing a historic and dangerous disconnect - science and citizens are demanding ambitious and transformative climate action. Meanwhile, many governments are dragging their feet.
He said grave consequences would be the result, with nearly half the world’s population already in the “danger zone”.
And, at a time when we should all come together in the fight for our lives, senseless wars are tearing us apart”, he added. “The energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine has seen a perilous doubling down on fossil fuels by the major economies. The war has reinforced an abject lesson: our energy mix is broken.”
The paradox, he said, is that cheaper, fairer and more reliable energy options should have been developed sooner, and faster, including wind and solar.
“Had we invested massively in renewable energy in the past, we would not be so dramatically at the mercy of the instability of fossil fuel markets.”
Solar energy and batteries have fallen in price by 85 per cent, over the past decade, while wind power has become 55 per cent cheaper.
“On the other hand, oil and gas have reached record price levels. And investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels”, the Secretary-General underlined.
The climate crisis has reached a “really bleak moment”, one of the world’s leading climate scientists says, after a series of reports laid bare how close the planet is to catastrophe. Prof. Johan Rockstrom said the world was coming “very, very close to irreversible changes … time is really running out very, very fast”.
Key UN agencies have produced damning reports in the last few days. The UN environment agency’s report found there was “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that “woefully inadequate” progress on cutting carbon emissions means the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”.
Current pledges for action by 2030, even if delivered in full, would mean a rise in global heating of at least 2.5C, a level that would condemn the world to catastrophic climate breakdown, according to the UN’s climate agency. Only a handful of countries have ramped up their plans in the last year, despite having promised to do so at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November.
The UN’s meteorological agency reported that all the main heating gases hit record highs in 2021.
Prof. Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “It’s a really bleak moment, not only because the reports showing that emissions are still rising, so we’re not delivering on either the Paris or Glasgow climate agreements, but we also have so much scientific evidence that we are very, very close to irreversible changes – we’re coming closer to tipping points.”
Research by Rockström and colleagues, found five dangerous climate tipping points may already have been passed due to the global heating caused by humanity to date, including the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, with another five possible with 1.5C of heating.
“Furthermore, the world is unfortunately in a geopolitically unstable state,” said Rockstrom. “So when we need collective action at the global level, probably more than ever since the second world war, to keep the planet stable, we have an all-time low in terms of our ability to collectively act together.”
“Time is really running out very, very fast,” he said. “I must say, in my professional life as a climate scientist, this is a low point. The window for 1.5C is shutting as I speak, so it’s really tough.”
UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Wednesday that climate action was “falling pitifully short”. “We are headed for a global catastrophe and for economy-destroying levels of global heating.” He added: “Droughts, floods, storms and wildfires are devastating lives and livelihoods across the globe and getting worse by the day. We need climate action on all fronts and we need it now.”
Climate experts agree that every action that limits global heating reduces the suffering endured by people from climate impacts.
Rockstrom said: “Despite the fact that the situation is depressing and very challenging, I would strongly advise everyone to act in business or policy or society or science. The deeper we fall into the dark abyss of risk, the more we have to make efforts to climb out of that hole. It’s not as if we don’t know what to do – it’s rather that we’re not doing what is necessary.”
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Mar. 2022 (IPCC News)
Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released today.
“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “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 world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F). Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements.
The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was approved on February 27 2022, by 195 member governments of the IPCC.
Urgent action required to deal with increasing risks
Increased heatwaves, 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.
To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
So far, progress on adaptation is 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.
“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 is key to securing a liveable future
There are options to adapt to a changing climate. This 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 Portner.
“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.”
Scientists point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanization, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events and a pandemic, jeopardizing future development.
“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 know-how 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.”
Cities: Hotspots of impacts and risks, but also a crucial part of the solution
This report provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives. People’s health, lives and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea level rise.
“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,” Debra Roberts said.
“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.”
There is increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge.
A narrowing window for action
Climate change is a global challenge that requires local solutions and that’s why the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) provides extensive regional information to enable Climate Resilient Development.
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.
“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future,” said Hans-Otto Portner.
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