Climate change is already manifesting around the world. The flooding in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, has its most recent effect.
Twelve people have lost their lives, submerged homes, and thousands evacuated from their homes after almost a week of torrential rains (Australia’s flooding, 2022).
The IPCC authors provide these five questions as guides when assessing the progress of a climate adaptation plan regionally and globally:
- Is there an awareness that climate change is causing risks?
- Are the current and future extent of climate risks being assessed?
- Have adaptation measures to reduce these risks been developed and included in planning?
- Are those adaptation measures being implemented?
- Are their implementation and effectiveness in reducing risks monitored and evaluated?
Despite rising awareness of the climate risk and efforts to adapt by governments, there is still a gnawing gap that exists, particularly in lower-income countries. The new IPCC report says that the world is underprepared to meet the impacts of a 1.5C temperature rise. As warming progresses, the effectiveness of land and water-based adaptation will start to decline, while the risk will continue to rise and its consequences.
Aside from insufficient adaptation efforts, there are also gaps in our understanding of climate change. For instance, it’s not always clear to what extent adaptation strategies reduce the risk and for whom it is implemented.
Sometimes, adaptation can also result in maladaptation or cause more harm than good. For example, coastal and seawalls can damage coastal ecosystems. And if these defences are not strong enough, they could get destroyed and cause widespread destruction and damages to the people it’s meant to protect.
Gaps in climate adaptation result from a lack of funding, political commitment, reliable information and a sense of urgency, the report says.
The report highlights the importance of adapting to climate change while continuing to make rapid and deep cuts in our GHG emissions to limit warming. (FAQ 4:4. How are, 2022).
Both actions could prevent the worse impacts of climate change and enable governments and policymakers to “keep the range and scope of adaptation options as wide as possible.”
Australia’s flooding death toll increases to 12 after man’s body found on street. (2022, March 2). Sky News. https://news.sky.com/story/australias-flooding-death-toll-increases-to-12-after-mans-body-found-on-street-12555306
FAQ 4:4. How are people adapting to the effects of climate change and what are the known limits to adaptation? IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/about/frequently-asked-questions/keyfaq4/
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