How should we adapt to a world with rising sea levels, more severe storms and more intense heat waves? These are issues that the UN’s climate panel addresses in a new report – which can be both encouraging and worrying reading.
Flood-like torrential rain, sticky desert heat are usually cool places and villages that are suddenly underwater. Extreme weather phenomena increasingly remind us that no one is safe anymore when the climate changes – and that extreme weather is expected to become more common and more intense as global temperatures rise.
Vulnerability and adaptation
The report by the UN’s climate panel IPCC revolves around how vulnerable humanity is to climate change and what measures can be taken to adapt societies to reality on an increasingly warmer planet.
The water cycle has changed due to climate change, what effects it has on people, what risks await and how we have and how we can adapt in the future.
- Droughts and floods are signs of climate change that most people in the world have already experienced or will experience. Climate change will not happen in the future, it has already happened and will get worse, she says.
- The IPCC does not come up with policy proposals, but we inform decision-makers about which adaptation strategies that science shows have worked and which have not.
The IPCC’s first interim report in the ongoing sixth climate assessment evaluation, published in August, described climate change as extensive, rapid and, in many cases, unparalleled. This is the basis on which the new interim report has to build when it takes a closer look at effects, vulnerability and adaptation.
The climate panel is primarily aimed at decision-makers and the reports are used as a basis in the international climate negotiations. But the content affects everyone:
- Where is the risk of floods? Increased drought? Fires? It affects people all over the world. The report provides a more complete picture of what we know about the impact of the climate on our societies and the risks that exist, he says.
- Another important thing is that the report includes several perspectives regarding the effects of climate change on societies, such as deficient infrastructure, incorrectly planned cities, corruption, poverty and vulnerabilities that exist, for example in the global food system.
Careful and slow?
The climate panel is sometimes criticized for being too cautious and that the painstaking work of summarizing thousands of studies entails a risk that the report has been overrun by reality already at the time of publication.
The IPCC’s reports are the best compilations of the state of knowledge about the climate that exists and that they, therefore, become both important for policy.
- The climate negotiations have focused a lot on reducing emissions. But the report is particularly important right now as issues of adaptation and vulnerability have climbed ever higher on the agenda.
- Many will feel a well-motivated concern. But the reports also contain a lot that can make the reader more encouraged. There is a lot we can do to ensure that the worst effects do not become a reality, as long as we get the right policy and the right type of investment and measures in place. These are issues that are also raised in the reports.