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What We Learned from the 2022 IPCC Report

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group of climate experts as part of the United Nations. The group meets to discuss and assess the science relating to climate change and creates an Assessment Report report about every 7 years on the state of knowledge on climate change, and how we might be able to slow the rate of climate change.

Here are some of our key takeaways from the latest: IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report:

1. Urgent GHG reductions to keep within 2°C of warming

There needs to be drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions within this decade in order to prevent raising temperatures globally to extremes. Without large-scale and urgent reductions we are not going to be able to limit warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C. Let's point out that 1.5°C is really, really bad, but 2°C is catastrophic.

“With accelerated warming and the intensification of cascading impacts and compounded risks above 1.5°C warming, there is a sharply increasing demand for adaptation and climate resilient development linked to achieving SDGs, equity, and balancing societal priorities. There is only limited opportunity to widen the remaining solution space and take advantage of many potentially effective, yet unimplemented options for reducing society and ecosystem vulnerability.”

2. Climate Change is interconnected with other world issues

The IPCC recognizes that climate change is not a focused impact but rather a series of domino effects, all interconnected with other development and global challenges. For example, one area's drought not only will affect the farmers’ lands but all the people that depend on the resources from these farms, which could be spread across the world to other locations, and with other ripple effects, such as reduced household incomes, taking children out of school, affecting their futures.

“Heat stress, water scarcity, food security and flood risk are just a few of the interconnected factors the Earth faces in the challenge against climate change.”

In order to tackle issues of climate change, we must also focus on tackling issues associated with the biodiversity crisis as well as poverty and inequality issues seen around the world.

3. Extreme weather is at an all time high

The changing of climates globally is seen everywhere on earth and is getting more and more extreme. Heat-related human mortality, coral bleaching, drought-related tree mortality, wildfires, cyclones, sea level rise, and ocean acidification are some of the impacts of human-caused climate change.

“The extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments. Widespread deterioration of ecosystem structure and function, resilience and natural adaptive capacity, as well as shifts in seasonal timing have occurred due to climate change, with adverse socioeconomic consequences”

4. Adaptation needs to be scaled up

Adaptation is often seen as having five general stages: 1) awareness, 2) assessment, 3) planning, 4) implementation, and 5) monitoring and evaluation. Although 170+ countries in the world have some sort of climate action policies and planning underway, there needs to be more of an effort in taking larger, urgent action.

“While increased awareness has spurred many governments and countries into action, adaptation across the world remains uneven and small in scale, sector-specific, or focused on planning rather than implementation. To achieve global, widespread impact, these efforts need to reach scale.”

5. Climate change impacts people and ecosystems disproportionately

Although we understand that climate change is seen all around the world in a variety of ways, it is the world’s most at-risk individuals that are being most affected by these conditions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, small island developing states and the Arctic. These people have development constraints based on land accessibility, poverty, water shortages, corruption, and limited access to basic human needs and services. These constraints will become more and more prominent with the increase of climate changes.

As well as people, it is severely impacting our biodiversity:

“Losses of local plant and animal populations have been widespread, many associated with large increases in hottest yearly temperatures and heatwave events. Marine heatwave events have led to widespread, abrupt and extensive mortality of key habitat-forming species among tropical corals,kelps, seagrasses, and mangroves as well as mass mortality of wildlife species, including benthic sessile species. On land, extreme heat events also have been implicated in the mass mortality of fruit bats and freshwater fish.”

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