IPCC says it is time for world to choose

31st March 2014

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Guy Beards

Responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world, concludes the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The IPCC warns, however, that the world is, for the most part, ill prepared for the risks and that more ambitious adaptation is necessary as the climate and society continues to change.

“We live in area of manmade climate change,” said Vicente Barros, chair of IPCC working group II, which produced the report. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face.”

Unveiling the report in Yokohama, co-chair Chris Field described climate change as a challenge in risk management and said that risks would be substantially decreased with mitigation and adaptation.

The report identifies five reasons for concern, including risks to unique natural systems, major biodiversity loss, severe economic impacts and extreme weather.

“Heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, air pollution, drought, and water scarcity pose risks for people, assets, economies, and ecosystems,” states the IPCC.

The scientists report that climate change is already affecting food supply, with the increase in crop yields of staples like wheat and maize stalling and not keeping pace with population growth.

Although the report confirms that effective adaptation measures can help build a more resilient global society in the near term and beyond, commentators urged governments to continue to try to prevent temperature rise and not just focus on adaptation.

“Unfortunately we have left it too late to rely on reducing emissions alone and we cannot avoid all of the impacts. Some adaptation will be needed. But acting swiftly to reduce CO2 emissions will make adaptation easier,” commented Dr Rachel Warren, lead coordinating author of chapter 19 of the report.

Celine Herwwijer, a specialist in climate change and adaptation, and a partner at PwC, advised companies to secure greater resource efficiency and more strategic supply chain strategies. “In a world of changing climates, there will be shifts in trading and investment patterns, and price volatility in the production and supply of resources will be the norm.”

Meanwhile, Martin Baxter, executive director of policy at IEMA, called for politicians to take action.

"The IPCC report is clear, we’re already seeing the effects of climate change and the consequences will become more significant. Managing climate risks requires a comprehensive approach to adapting to the effects of a changing climate, and taking action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions,” he said.

“We have the capability to address the challenge of climate change and make the transformation to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy and society. We now need the political will and climate leadership to put in place a global agreement to make it happen.”

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