IPCC report warns of damage to ecosystems

24th March 2022


Web p7 IEMA News IPCC report warns of damage to ecosystems CREDIT Getty Images 1148857258

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In February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. It included detailed information about the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity.

The report states that, globally, there has been substantial, and some irreversible, damage to terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and that the extent is larger than expected. Ecosystems have reduced in number but also in resilience, ability to adapt, structure and function; there have also been changes in seasonality. Some of the differences include increased tree mortality from droughts, loss of kelp forest, and warm water coral bleaching and mortality. Some species, such as those in polar regions, will face temperatures beyond their historical experience during the next 10 years. Changes to land, freshwater and marine environments will affect livelihoods and security, including water security and food production.

There are adaptation options, many of which will be familiar. The key is protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity: minimising harmful impacts, reducing fragmentation, and improving and increasing natural habitats, connectivity and heterogeneity. The report emphasises that this must be done using the right approaches in the right places, taking into account scientific information, indigenous knowledge, community knowledge and practical expertise.

The challenge is for businesses and governments to not only count and reduce carbon, but also understand and reduce their impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems and create environmental net gain. IEMA’s publication Biodiversity Net Gain – Good practice principles for development provides guidance for practitioners in this area.

IEMA supports the UK Biodiversity and Business Forum, which helps companies understand the value of nature and integrating nature into their value chains and decision-making.

Image credit | Getty

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