“This report presents a much greater sense of urgency. Climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. However, science is also clear that with concerted action we still have a chance to avoid the worst scenarios,” says SEI Senior Research Fellow Richard J. T. Klein, who has been involved in IPCC reports since 1996.
The Working Group II report examines the impacts of climate change on nature and people around the globe. It explores future impacts at different levels of warming and the resulting risks and offers options to strengthen the resilience of both nature and humans. It concludes that human-induced climate change is causing widespread disruption and affecting billions of lives around the world.
“The report goes into much more detail on adaptation than previous reports. It shows that while many countries and communities are taking adaptation action, there is a large gap between what is needed and what is being done. And this adaptation gap is widening, we are not adapting fast enough. It is not just a funding gap: it is also a gap in knowledge, in governance, in capacity, in political will,” Klein added.
“For the first time, the IPCC report on adaptation prominently stresses how climate risks cascade across borders. Trade is one pathway such cascading climate risk can take, as recent SEI research has shown. Climate impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. Climate risks interact with other threats to compound the overall risk, which will then cascade across sectors and regions. Climate risks do not respect national boundaries and weather-related extremes are creating shocks to global trade,” he continued.
“If warming is not limited to 1.5°C or 2°C, adaptation becomes increasingly more expensive and less effective. Some losses attributed to climate change are already irreversible, other impacts are approaching irreversibility. With increasing global warming, losses and damages become increasingly difficult to avoid, whilst strongly concentrated among the poorest vulnerable populations,” said Klein.
The IPCC report warns of how climate risks that cascade across borders can create shocks to global trade. SEI research has shown that neither countries nor companies are sufficiently aware of their exposure to such cascading climate risks. Countries need to widen their views to prepare for risks originating outside their borders, while companies must also account for the more distant tiers of their supply chains.