Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2 published its 6th Assessment Report highlighting climate change impacts.
On this issue, Katja Frieler, a lead author of the IPCC report’s chapter on observed cross-sectoral impacts as well as contributing author of the report’s summary for policy makers, co-chair of the Transformation Pathways Research Department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:
“We are already now leaving the world as we know it. Observed climate impacts are increasing across sectors, our report shows. Exceeding 1.1°C of global warming today doesn’t sound like much, yet the impacts of human-induced climate change on people and nature become more and more visible. For example, our greenhouse gas emissions are already largely responsible for the observed occurrence of mass bleaching threatening warm water corals. They are contributing to increased drought-induced tree-mortality. And they are driving far reaching shifts in the timing of many natural processes.
Compared to the previous assessment report, we have also gained a much better scientific understanding of societies’ sensitivities to weather conditions. In particular, how weather extremes affect our infrastructure, economies, and health. The numbers are clear. More people die from heat-related health issues due to global warming. Human induced sea level rise and the increase in heavy precipitation linked to tropical cyclones have expanded the damages they induce. A series of observed droughts with severe negative impacts on food security have been partly attributed to anthropogenic climate forcing. All this is happening already today at, again, just 1.1°C warming – which clearly shows that we must urgently limit further temperature increases. This is not just an environmental issue, it’s about our own safety.”
Also on the IPCC report, Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor at the University of Potsdam, with regard to future impacts:
“Climate impacts are rising fast, hitting earlier than anticipated and affecting more people. Already 1.5°C will undermine livelihoods for billions of people due to heatwaves, floods, droughts, and sea level rise. And it is critical to realise that climate impacts are not only about temperature, but also the health of natural ecosystems, which determine the resilience to climate change. Food insecurity, water scarcity, and intolerable heat, when hitting vulnerable societies is a prescription for social instability, causing rising numbers of displaced people, migration and conflict.
Solving the climate crisis is here and now, and our utmost global priority for a safe and just future for humanity on Earth. Moreover, the report shows that there is no safe landing well-below 2°C global temperature increase unless we act on all planetary boundaries by securing the resilience of the biosphere – land, water, plants and animals. It’s our life-support system and buffering capacity to climate shocks. Fail and we risk triggering not only massive climate impacts, but also trigger cascades where collapse of ecosystems amplify warming, and causing even further social instability. The IPCC is clear, the moment of urgency is here.”
Weblink to the IPCC AR6 WG2 climate impacts report: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-ii/
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Who we are: The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is one of the leading research institutions addressing relevant questions in the fields of global change, climate impacts and sustainable development. Natural and social scientists work closely together to generate interdisciplinary insights that provide a sound basis for decision-making for society, businesses and politics. PIK is a member of the Leibniz Association.