Climate change continues to cause dangerous and widespread disruptions in nature, but the magnitude and rate of climate change and its associated risks depend on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in Working Group II’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, released on February 28.
Enhancing our knowledge of climate change’s impacts and risks can enhance our responses and accelerate adaptation efforts, it added.
In its report, the IPCC flagged 127 risks - including heatwaves, droughts, floods, and biodiversity loss risks - and showed, at both global and regional levels, how these risks change with temperature gradient changes.
“As climate impacts worsen – and they will – scaling up investments will be essential for survival. Adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal force and urgency. That’s why I have been pushing to get to 50% of all climate finance for adaptation,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a press conference held after 195 governments approved Working Group II’s report.
To reduce human suffering, lower risks and avoid projected damages, near-term actions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C are critical. Even at global warming of 1.5 degrees C, multiple climate hazards await. Exceeding the 1.5 degrees C threshold will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible, the IPCC warned. Some ecosystems, including coral reefs, coastal wetlands, rainforests, and polar and mountain ecosystems, are near or have already surpassed their adaptive capacity, it added.
Monitoring and evaluating change is essential for tracking progress and climate change progression. “In a warming world, [adaptation] measures that are effective now might not work in 20 years. Adaptation strategies might have to be revised constantly. Revisions should be fact and data driven,” Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group II said during the press conference.
Generally, across the risks identified in Working Group II’s report, the current rate of planning and implementation to adapt to climate change are insufficient, the IPCC said.
To date, most adaptation efforts have been focused on water-related hazards, but Working Group II’s report shows that the strengthening of health systems can reduce the impacts of infectious disease, heat stress, and other climate-related risks. Nature also offers significant untapped potential to reduce climate risk and deal with the causes of climate change, the IPCC said. For example, the global food system can be made more resilient through adopting stress-tolerant crops and livestock, agroforestry, and increased diversification on farms, it added. Strengthening biodiversity, meanwhile, can improve pest control, pollination, and carbon storage while providing shade for temperature-sensitive crops, like coffee and cocoa, it noted.
ESG and SDG Link Fortified
With each IPCC report during this assessment cycle, the IPCC’s message has been clear: the world we live in today will not be the world we live in tomorrow. While Working Group I’s report, released in August 2021, laid out the physical basis for climate change, Working Group II’s report provides an understanding of how these different lines of evidence come together for people, ecosystems, and the planet.
Working Group II’s report, through its body of research, also fleshes out the concept of Climate Resilient Development, which was introduced in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.
As a concept, Climate Resilient Development more closely links the corporate language of ESG to the UN’s broader Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At its core, Climate Resilient Development implements GHG mitigation strategies and adaptation options to support sustainable development, and it shows that orienting towards human health, ecosystem health, and planetary health should be the goal, the IPCC said.
This bridge to the UN’s SDGs is useful as well as timely. In March, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) will release a first beta version of a new risk management and disclosure framework aimed at helping financial institutions and companies incorporate nature-related risks and opportunities into their strategic planning. And in early March, Finance for Biodiversity (F4B) published a first-of-a-kind integrated transition framework that seeks to provide financial institutions with practical guidance on how to integrate their understanding and management of climate and nature as they transition to a net zero, nature positive world. F4B’s new framework is consistent with, and can be used alongside, the work of the TNFD. G7 Finance Ministers and the G20 Sustainable Finance Roadmap are among those that have endorsed the TNFD.
In its work, the TNFD will build on the work of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) voluntary framework for helping companies and governments disclose climate-related risks. On April 6, the UK will be the first G20 country to mandate TCFD-aligned climate disclosures across its economy. The European Union, Canada, and New Zealand have also announced plans to introduce or enhance their domestic climate disclosure regulations.
Working Group II’s Reality Check
At our current 1.1 degrees C of warming, weather extremes have already caused impacts that are proving difficult to manage.
What’s at Risk for Agriculture & Food Systems
The challenges that we face increase with higher levels of warming, and those most exposed to climate change impacts have the least resources to adapt.
An increase in the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events on land and in the ocean will affect billions of lives and livelihoods and trigger mass mortalities in species, including trees and corals. It can also cause significant disruptions to food systems and have serious implications for food security.
Iterating to Better Climate Risk Management
Climate risk management requires integrated risk assessment and adaptation planning. With this in mind, Gro has developed a global climate data and analytics platform that helps users understand the complex, interacting, and compounding nature of climate risks in a way that facilitates Climate Resilient Development.
Our platform maps environmental data and the latest climate scenarios to physical locations, so users can more easily fold integrated climate risk modeling and mapping into decision-making processes.
To help users increase their resilience against climate change and other related risks, we are continually expanding our climate risk product suite.
For climate risk, we have been able to leverage our agricultural risk expertise. Some of our current climate risk products are: