The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its Working Group II have finalized a summary of the impacts of climate change and how humans can adapt.
The summary will be included in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), forthcoming in 2022.
In a speech to launch the summary on 28 February, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said we must "cushion the blows" of climate change by by restoring ecosystems at a large scale.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its Working Group II met over the course of two weeks to finalize a summary of the impacts of climate change and how humans can adapt. The summary will be included in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), forthcoming in 2022.
The IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. Its three working groups focus on:
- physical science underpinning climate change (WGI);
- impacts of climate change, adaptation and vulnerability (WGII); and
- mitigation options (WGIII).
In July-August 2021, the IPCC’s first Working Group (WGI) adopted its contribution to the report, highlighting the irreversible changes that have already taken place due to climate change. WGII’s contribution to the forthcoming IPCC report says that action at the global level for climate resilient development (CRD) is more urgent than previously assessed in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The report provides extensive regional information to enable CRD.
Other findings of the WGII summary include:
- Approximately 3.3-3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change;
- Many natural systems are near the hard limits of their natural adaptation capacity and additional systems will reach limits with increasing global warming;
- Feasible and effective adaptation options are available and can reduce risks to people and nature;
- Enabling conditions for adaptation include political commitment and follow-through, institutional frameworks, adequate financial resources, and monitoring and evaluation; and
- Maladaptive responses to climate change can create lock-ins of vulnerability, exposure, and risks that are difficult and expensive to change and that exacerbate existing inequalities.
The WGII contribution also provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives.
In a speech to launch the summary on 28 February, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen described the severe impacts of climate change already occurring – “all this … at only 1.1 degrees Celsius of global warming.” Yet temperature rise is on track for closer to 3 degrees Celsius. Andersen explained that we must “cushion the blows” by adapting to climate change, and suggested that the best way is to “let nature do the job it spent millions of years perfecting” by restoring ecosystems at a large scale.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “As climate impacts worsen … scaling up investments will be essential for survival.” Therefore, he has been advocating that 50% of all climate finance be designated for adaptation. Guterres also stressed the need to remove obstacles that prevent small island states and least developed countries from getting financial resources needed for climate action.
The 55th session of the IPCC (IPCC-55) and WGII-12 convened virtually from 14-27 February 2022. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin meeting coverage] [Publication: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Summary for Policymakers)]