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IPCC Sheds Light on Impacts of Climate Change on People and Ecosystems

New IPCC Assessment Report of Working Group II published

The IPCC has unveiled the latest contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report. Since 2019, a team of nearly 300 experts has evaluated tens of thousands of scientific studies, focusing on the impacts of global warming on natural ecosystems and humans. Conclusion: mitigation and adaptation measures must go hand in hand to achieve the goal of climate-resilient development.

The new report, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” highlights how the conservation of ecosystems can help reduce the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems. It also addresses how rising temperatures can have devastating effects on cities and infrastructure.

Alarming Consequences for Climate, Environment, Humans and Animals

According to the report, weather and climate extremes such as heat, drought, flooding, water shortages, glacier extinction, sea-level rise, and global species extinction have increased dramatically. In some places this has already led to irreversible damage. The IPCC reports that 3.3 to 3.6 billion people worldwide almost half of humanity already live in severely affected regions. This makes them particularly vulnerable to further consequences of the climate crisis. Moreover, the IPCC warns of even more devastating consequences for people and ecosystems if warming exceeds 1.5 °C by 2040. Such climate change-related risks can only be countered with corresponding timely mitigation and adaptation measures.

More Climate Adaptation Action

The report emphasizes that industrialized nations need to invest substantially more in mitigation and adaptation measures. Adaptation development is not proceeding at the same pace everywhere because the feasibility of implementing measures depends on many environmental and economic factors. In many countries, particularly in the global South, adaptation capabilities are limited due to a lack of financial resources, making these countries reliant on the financial support of industrialized nations. It is essential that carbon mitigation and adaptation measures are implemented simultaneously throughout the world to reduce climate risks and support vulnerable countries in expanding their climate-resilient development.

Supporting Climate-Resilient Development by Strengthening Natural Ecosystems

The IPCC highlights that the protection and preservation of natural ecosystems is crucial for climate resilient development. This is because natural ecosystems serve as habitats for many endangered species, provide people with important resources, and can act as a barrier to environmental impacts such as storm surges.

By restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 percent of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential.

- Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group II

Should they be implemented over the next decade, innovative measures could lead to greater adaptability in the long term. For example, the increasing heat stress on cities could be mitigated through climate-adapted urban planning such as creating green spaces and planting trees that provide shade and improve air quality.

First Climate Mitigation Projects Support Adaptation to Climate Impacts

First Climate’s numerous climate protection projects not only have a positive impact by reducing carbon, but they also contribute to the increased adaptability of various systems to the consequences of climate change. One example is the biochar program. Biochar stores carbon permanently and thus is an efficient carbon sink. This plays an important role in agricultural adaptation to global warming but also presents a promising possibility in urban planning.

For example, to enhance shading and cooling in Zurich, trees were planted on Giessereistrasse in a biochar-based substrate developed by First Climate’s project partner INEGA as part of the “Schwammstadtprojekt” launched by the city of Zurich. During heavy rainfall, the biochar can absorb a large amount of water, which is released back to the trees during dry periods.

“Thanks to improved water and nutrient availability, the trees’ resilience is increased. In this way, biochar contributes to climate-adapted urban development,” explains Claudio Kummli, Project Manager at First Climate.

First Climate is also active at the international level with mitigation projects that have an adaptation effect, particularly in nature-based carbon sink projects. For example, First Climate plants mangroves in Indonesia to protect coastal regions, and promotes sustainable afforestation in Argentina and Colombia by planting resilient, native species. In this way, First Climate enables companies to invest equally in mitigation and adaptation measures and contribute to climate-resilient development.

More information on the report here.

Photo credit 1: ©IPCC

Photo credit 2: ©INEGA AG



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