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IPCC report described as ‘fire alarm for the planet’

As responses continue to trail the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Mohamed Adow, (pictured) Director of climate think tank Power Shift Africa, has described the document as a “fire alarm”.

He said: “This IPCC report is a fire alarm for the planet. We all know we are in a climate crisis, but this is a wakeup call that we’re facing an adaptation crisis too.

“As a species we are currently failing to adapt to this changing world. Or more accurately, the rich, polluting, global north has changed the planet

through fossil fuel burning and is now refusing to help those suffering the effects.

“This report shows that the rich world needs to radically increase adaptation support to those on the front lines of this emergency. With 2022 seeing the UN climate summit, COP27, taking place in Africa, this is the perfect year to address the adaptation crisis.

“This report shows the deep injustice of the climate emergency. Some of the poorest countries in the world are having to use scarce resources to adapt to a crisis not of their making.

“Despite only having tiny carbon footprints compared to those of the rich world, these African countries are suffering from droughts, storms and floods which are putting already stretched public finances under strain and limiting their ability to tackle other problems.

“We are facing an adaptation crisis and it is vital that countries heed these warnings and do much more to provide the finance needed to tackle these adaptation needs.  It is simply not acceptable for the costs to fall on those people who are suffering the most while contributing the least to climate change.

“This year’s COP27 climate summit will be on African soil, in Egypt. This needs to be the ‘Adaptation COP’ and address the historic imbalance which has seen adaptation neglected for far too long.

“We need to see massive levels of new funding committed at COP27 as well as a fund set up to deal with the permanent loss and damage caused by climate change.”

Prof Chukwumerjie Okereke, Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex Ekwueme Federal University of Nigeria, said: “It is both irresponsible and immoral for those that are the chief cause of climate change to look on while Africa, that has contributed next to nothing to climate change continues to bear a disproportionate share of the impact. The time for warm words is long gone. We need urgent, scaled up, long term support from the world leading climate polluters.”

Katja Frieler, a lead author of the IPCC report’s chapter on observed cross-sectoral impacts as well as contributing author of the report’s summary for policy makers, co-chair of the Transformation Pathways Research Department at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “We are already now leaving the world as we know it. Observed climate impacts are increasing across sectors, our report shows. Exceeding 1.1°C of global warming today doesn’t sound like much, yet the impacts of human-induced climate change on people and nature become more and more visible. For example, our greenhouse gas emissions are already largely responsible for the observed occurrence of mass bleaching threatening warm water corals. They are contributing to increased drought-induced tree-mortality. And they are driving far reaching shifts in the timing of many natural processes.

“Compared to the previous assessment report, we have also gained a much better scientific understanding of societies’ sensitivities to weather conditions. In particular, how weather extremes affect our infrastructure, economies, and health. The numbers are clear. More people die from heat-related health issues due to global warming. Human induced sea level rise and the increase in heavy precipitation linked to tropical cyclones have expanded the damages they induce.

“A series of observed droughts with severe negative impacts on food security have been partly attributed to anthropogenic climate forcing. All this is happening already today at, again, just 1.1°C warming – which clearly shows that we must urgently limit further temperature increases. This is not just an environmental issue, it’s about our own safety.”

Also on the IPCC report, Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor at the University of Potsdam, with regard to future impacts, said: “Climate impacts are rising fast, hitting earlier than anticipated and affecting more people. Already 1.5°C will undermine livelihoods for billions of people due to heatwaves, floods, droughts, and sea level rise. And it is critical to realise that climate impacts are not only about temperature, but also the health of natural ecosystems, which determine the resilience to climate change. Food insecurity, water scarcity, and intolerable heat, when hitting vulnerable societies is a prescription for social instability, causing rising numbers of displaced people, migration and conflict.

“Solving the climate crisis is here and now, and our utmost global priority for a safe and just future for humanity on Earth. Moreover, the report shows that there is no safe landing well-below 2°C global temperature increase unless we act on all planetary boundaries by securing the resilience of the biosphere – land, water, plants and animals. It’s our life-support system and buffering capacity to climate shocks. Fail and we risk triggering not only massive climate impacts, but also trigger cascades where collapse of ecosystems amplify warming, and causing even further social instability. The IPCC is clear, the moment of urgency is here.”

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