The latest IPCC report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was released today, about three months after global leaders met at a climate summit in Glasgow to highlight the urgency of efforts to contain global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures.
The report follows last year’s report that focused on the physical science of climate change and further emphasizes the need for immediate action on global emissions.
The IPCC 2022 report comprises 18 chapters showing the efforts of over 200 scientists in reviewing the latest information about how climate change is impacting ecosystems (both natural and human), future risks, various approaches to adaptation, and links to climate-resilient development.
It points out that climate change is affecting the world rapidly, way faster than scientists had predicted. In the meantime, countries have failed to mitigate carbon emissions as they have continued to rise.
Projected global warming under current global emissions reduction policies, from what can be seen, will leave many of the world’s human and natural systems at very high risk and will put some beyond adaptation.
On mitigation and adaptation, the IPCC report says that, while governments need to drastically curb their emissions to prevent runaway global warming, they can also work to limit suffering by adapting to the changing weather conditions. This, however, will cost a lot, especially in terms of industrial support and financing technologies.
To adapt, cities can invest in cooling areas to help people through heat waves, while coastal communities may need new infrastructure or have to relocate altogether. However, the report acknowledges that the costs of adapting will be too high in some cases.
However, the reality is that even with further improvements in the adaptation process, the world’s ability to adapt its way out of trouble will be severely compromised without rapid decarbonization to limit warming.
The key point for governments to note is that there are clear limits to adaptation and that the world is rapidly approaching those limits, so action on emissions is critical and must urgently be enacted.
On social justice, the report warns that societies will fail to adjust well to global warming if they aren’t socially inclusive in tackling the task.
It maintains that solutions, beyond considering social justice, need to include indigenous populations, minorities, and the poor as they are the most vulnerable. This includes communities in Africa, South Asia, and small island nations, as well as marginalized communities in wealthy nations.