The UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced today the publication of the “IPCC Working Group II report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” assessing the impacts of climate change on people, ecosystems, and biodiversity, and reviewing the capacity to adapt to climate change.

The report, created by 270 authors across 67 countries, warns of the severe impacts that will result from climate hazards in the coming decades, and calls for urgent adaptation and mitigation action by policymakers, as well as private sector businesses and investors.

Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, said:

“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

The report indicated that over 3 billion people globally are highly vulnerable to climate change, with millions already exposed to acute food and water insecurity, particularly in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.

The new report follows the publication in August 2021 by the IPCC of a report detailing the current state of the global climate system and impacts of climate change. The new report digs deeper into the causes and impacts of climate change, noting that “Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability. Some development and adaptation efforts have reduced vulnerability.”

The report finds that even reaching warming of 1.5°C would result in unavoidable multiple climate hazards, and warns that exceeding this level would cause severe, and in some cases irreversible impacts, ranging from economic damage and biodiversity loss, to loss of life. The report calls for accelerated action on adaptation, along with rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Lee added:

“This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments. It emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option.”

While the report notes that some progress has been made on adaptation planning, it notes increasing gaps  between the level of action taken and that needed to appropriately deal with the risks. One of the key areas for action recommended in the report as most impactful for adaptation is s focus on safeguarding and strengthening nature, given the ability for natural systems including land, freshwater and ocean habitats to help reduce climate risks and improve people’s lives.

Other key focus areas in the report are the climate change impact, risk and adaptation of cities, as well as the potential for meaningful city-focused climate action to adapt and mitigate climate change.

IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts said:

“Together, growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services.

“But cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.”

Investor groups and sustainable business-focused organizations called the report a wake-up call, noting the risks of climate change to business models and investments, and urged more meaningful and rapid action by businesses and investors on actions to adapt and mitigate climate change.

Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) CEO Rebecca Mikula-Wright said:

“Institutional investors… have systemic exposure to climate change risks. Unless emissions are reduced, extreme weather will have worsening impacts on property, infrastructure, agricultural production and other climate dependent industries.

“Climate change will also have indirect impacts on sovereign credit risks, supply chains, the property market, insurance pricing or wider economic conditions.”

Nicolette Bartlett, Chief Impact Officer at CDP, added:

“Today’s findings should make a focus on immediate emission reductions even more critical. Adaptation will become harder, and near impossible, if warming continues at the current pace and the planet passes tipping point after tipping point and suffers irreversible impacts. Five-year transition plans outlining how companies will transition to the 1.5°C-aligned business model, how their capital allocation will align with this and what governance the company has in place to ensure delivery will be essential for short-term action. Credible transition plans toward a net-zero future must include increasing and tracked adaptation measures if they are to be truly effective, alongside robust, science-based 2030 targets. The reality remains that companies need to halve emissions by 2030 if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming.”

Click here to access the IPCC report.