Scientific Meeting Focuses on Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability to Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has begun a two-week meeting to consider a report that assesses the impact of the world’s changing climate and how humans might adapt.

Hundreds of scientists meeting virtually will lay out the latest evidence on how past and future changes to the Earth’s climate system are affecting the planet.

The report under review is the second of three installments that will comprise the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, which will be released later this year.

In August, the scientific body approved the first contribution of Working Group I, which dealt with the physical science basis of climate change.

The second part, currently under review, highlights the role of social justice and diverse forms of knowledge, such as indigenous and local knowledge, might play to strengthen climate change action and reduce the risks.

The chair of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee, said the report focuses on solutions and productive areas for action.

“It will be more strongly integrated, the natural, social and economic sciences. And it will provide policymakers with sound data and knowledge to help them shape policies and make decisions. The need for the Working Group II report has never been greater because the stakes have never been higher,” he said.

The United Nations-backed IPCC was established in 1988 to provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments regarding climate change. The panel previously issued five assessment reports that spotlighted climate change as an issue of growing global importance.

The Paris Agreement on climate change calls for limiting human-induced global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC warns that mark will be exceeded this century, unless drastic action is taken.

Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas, said weather-related disasters have been increasing dramatically over the past two decades.

He said vulnerable areas in tropical latitudes, especially in Africa, Southern Asia and the Pacific are suffering the worst impacts of climate-driven disasters.

He said he often uses a sports analogy to communicate the seriousness of climate change to humanity.

“We have at the moment Winter Olympics going on in China. We have high-performing athletes. And if you give them doping, then they perform even more expertly. So, that is what we have done with the atmosphere. We have been doping the atmosphere,” said Taalas.

The contribution by Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change, will be finalized in April. The concluding synthesis of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report will be made in September.

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