IPCC Issues Another Dire Warning

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – On 28 February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) officially unveiled the second part of the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Whereas the first part, which made headlines last year, looks at the physical basis of climate, the most recent addition assesses the effects of climate change on human and natural systems and the options and limits to adapt to them. A third part, focusing on mitigating climate change, is in the making. Rounding up this IPCC cycle, a fourth report synthesising the three will be published ahead of the COP 27 UN climate summit in Egypt in November.

    “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change,” comments António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, upon the release of the second instalment of the IPCC report. The 18-chapter document, written by 270 researchers from 67 countries and citing over 34,000 references, explores in detail the complex interactions and interdependencies between climate, ecosystems, and human society. The authors conclude that 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. Unfortunately, people and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit.

    In its latest report, Working Group II has introduced several new components. One is a special section on climate change impacts, risks, and options to act for cities and settlements by the sea, tropical forests, mountains, biodiversity hotspots, dryland and deserts, the Mediterranean, and the polar regions. Another is an atlas that will present data and findings on observed and projected climate change impacts and risks from global to regional scales, thus offering even more insights for decision-makers.

    According to the report, ambitious accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change and avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity, and infrastructure. So far, progress on adaptation has been uneven, and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the growing risks. These gaps are most significant among lower-income populations.

    However, the report is not just “an atlas of human suffering”, as dubbed by Guterres. It also provides new insights into nature’s potential to reduce climate risks and improve people’s lives. “Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water,” comments IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner. “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.”

    The second part of the IPCC report is perhaps the most politically sensitive one. It deals with the real-life impact of climate change and includes contentious issues, such as the potential for food shortages or those impacts considered too great for countries to adapt to, aka ‘loss and damage’.

    Discussions about ‘loss and damage’ in particular have been heated, as the Paris Agreement promise to help victims of climate change recover after extreme weather events or slower-onset climate disasters such as sea-level rise have not been fulfilled over the years. Wealthy nations have resisted providing specific finance for these losses and refused to accept any liability or compensation claims for their historical responsibility in causing climate change. “What is important to recognise about the work that we do in the IPCC is we don’t deal with loss and damage in the [UN Climate Change] sense,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of the working group producing the report, told journalists earlier this month. “What we deal with are the losses and damages that emerge from the physical changes in the climate.”

    It will take time to peruse the extensive findings and conclusions of the report properly. The main message, however, is loud and clear. “This report recognises the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social, and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments. It emphasises the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option,” concludes Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.



    Julia Axelsson, CAIA
    Julia Axelsson, CAIA
    Julia has accumulated experience in asset management for more than 20 years in Stockholm and Beijing, in portfolio management, asset allocation, fund selection and risk management. In December 2020, she completed a program in Sustainability Studies at the University of Linköping. Julia speaks Mandarin, Bulgarian, Hindi, Russian, Swedish, Urdu and English. She holds a Master in Indology from Sofia University and has completed studies in Economics at both Stockholm University and Stockholm School of Economics.

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