Second part of the IPCC Assessment Report warns against delays

At the end of February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its second partial report. It warns of the great risks that delays in far-reaching climate measures entail. The warmer it gets, the more difficult effective adaptation measures become.

The window of opportunity to achieve the Paris targets is shrinking. Graphic: myclimate

The first of the three partial reports, published in August 2021, showed how and why the Earth's climate is changing. The second part includes research results on the effects of climate change on humans, ecosystems and biodiversity and is dedicated to the possibilities and limits of adaptation to climate change. 

The scientific evidence is clear: climate change threatens the well-being of people and the planet. Over a third of the world's population lives in regions that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Food insecurity, water scarcity and increased extreme weather events caused by climate change can further exacerbate existing crises and conflicts. This particularly affects the global South, where an increasingly unequal relationship is developing between the major climate risks and the still insufficient measures to limit them. The report warns of far-reaching risks and damage to environmental systems even if it succeeds in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to "net zero" by 2050.  

Better news comes from the second key finding of the report: investing in adaptation works. However, it needs the will of all and the corresponding financial resources.

Hunger and water scarcity, diseases and premature deaths
Climate change is having an increasingly negative impact on food production and access, threatening food security, especially in vulnerable regions. Already, millions of people face acute food insecurity and reduced water security due to increasing weather and extreme events.  These "will lead to significant increases in disease and premature death in the short to long term". Some 50-75% of the world's population could be exposed to periods of "life-threatening climatic conditions" due to extreme heat and humidity by 2100. Biodiversity is also at risk from climate change.  

Irreversible consequences
The report warns that even a temporary global warming of more than 1.5 °C would lead to severe impacts that are irreversible for centuries to millennia or even entirely. If global emissions of greenhouse gases remain at today's levels, global warming is likely to increase by 1.5 °C already by 2035.

What solutions are there to enable humanity to adapt to climate change?
According to Thomas Bernauer, ETH professor and contributor to the latest IPCC report, "nature-based solutions", i.e. biological "sinks", are one of the most important means of removing CO₂ from the atmosphere and storing it permanently. One example of this is the large-scale planting of trees, sustainable forestry and soil management or the rewetting of peatlands in order to store carbon in soils and biomass in the long term. myclimate is now involved in more than 20 projects in Germany, Switzerland and worldwide to promote carbon dioxide removal through natural sink projects.

Another important approach, according to Bernauer, is to promote climate resilient development. Climate resilience refers to the ability of social and ecological systems to adapt to climate change in order to mitigate damage and take advantage of new opportunities. Examples include infrastructure projects such as flood protection, but also climate-smart food and health systems.

The myclimate project “Fertile soil as a natural CO₂ sink in the Lake Constance Region”, for example, improves water storage capacity and thus increases resilience in the event of extreme weather. 

All of us – in both our professional and personal lives – must do everything we can to halt climate change and mitigate its consequences – be it through CO₂ avoidance and reduction (mitigation) or adaptation to climate change. Take action yourself!

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