CONDITIONS OF HUMAN LIFE on Earth are deteriorating faster than expected due to human-induced climate change, warns Part Two of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet,” said Hans Otto Portnerco-chair of the second working group of the IPCC.
“Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to ensure a livable future.”
The colossal report pointed out that dangerous human-induced changes, such as more frequent and intense extreme weather events, have inflicted widespread adverse effects, including some irreversible, on nature and people, leaving people and the most vulnerable systems in regions disproportionately affected.
“This report is a terrible warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Leethe chairman of the IPCC.
“This shows that climate change is a serious and growing threat to our well-being and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to growing climate risks.
According to the authors, it is not too late to adapt to most changes by taking immediate action to halt global warming and shift to more sustainable patterns of natural resource use. Progress in adaptation planning and implementation has so far been unevenly distributed and focused on reducing immediate and short-term risks at the expense of transformational adaptation.
“Healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-sustaining services such as food and drinking water,” Pörtner reminded.
“By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30-50% of Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s ability to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate sustainable development, but adequate funding and political support are essential.”
While climate change is closely linked to global trends such as the unsustainable use of natural resources, urbanization, social inequalities, human and financial losses due to extreme events and pandemics, the response must involve all world, from governments to the private sector and civil society.
“In this way, different interests, values and worldviews can be reconciled,” said Debra Robert, co-chair of the second working group. “By bringing together scientific and technological know-how, as well as indigenous and local knowledge, solutions will be more effective.
The report’s language marks a significant departure from earlier, more cautious reports, portraying climate change as a direct threat to humanity and the planet, its effects on billions of people as dangerous, and many of the changes that have already products as irreversible.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the report as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning condemnation of failed climate leadership.”
“Almost half of humanity lives in the danger zone – now. Many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now. Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march towards destruction – now. The facts are undeniable,” he said.
In Finland, experts and policymakers linked the report’s findings to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Emma Kari (Greens) stressed that extreme weather events and other changes also have a security dimension because of the challenge they pose for food production both in Finland and outside.
“They cause direct problems for our security of supply. The climate crisis is also a matter of internal security,” she told a press conference given by Helsingin Sanomat.
Johanna Buchert, director of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), echoed his analysis: “Climate change is hampering our food production and our security of supply. This is a serious problem in the times in which we live.
Kari stressed that climate targets should not be canceled because of the conflict in Ukraine. “A crisis does not disappear because another arises,” she recalled. “The Ukrainian crisis further clarifies the need to break our dependence on fossil fuel imports. A significant proportion of them come from Russia.
Although the report indicates that opportunities for climate-resilient development are inequitably distributed around the world, no part of the world should fall asleep in inaction.
In Europe, the most significant effects of the climate emergency will include heat-related human mortality and morbidity, heat-related disruptions in ecosystems, drought and heat-related problems in agricultural production, water shortages in the southern parts of the continent and coastal regions, river and rain floods.
Damage from coastal flooding, for example, is expected to increase tenfold by the end of the century, contributing to the huge economic impact of the crisis.
“This report shows that mitigating climate change is an economically sound investment where every tenth of a degree matters,” commented Lassi AhlvikAssociate Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at the University of Helsinki.
Northern European regions have to adapt in particular to increased winter precipitation, strong winds and generally variable weather conditions.
“If we want to keep the planet habitable, we don’t have the option of canceling our climate targets. Climate is not a separate administrative island, but all policies must be sustainable and carbon neutral,” Kari said according to Helsingin Sanomat.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT