IPCC AR6 Reports Pacific Islands and Other Countries Risks Disappearing

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With the release of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, the Climate Adaptation Platform is publishing a series of blog posts about it.

The science is clear, and the solution is simple — massive and unabated GHG emissions since the industrial age are causing global warming and making extreme events more frequent and more extreme. The answer is simple, reduce GHG emissions to stop climate change. 

Although the situation seems clear on the surface, the path to decarbonising is complex and involves drastic behavioural changes, global cooperation, and political will.

The IPCC’s AR6 paints a stark picture, sending an unequivocal message that human activities cause climate change and that the consequences of anthropogenic climate change – heatwaves, wildfires, drought, floods, sea-level rise, heavy rains, intense storms, are at our doorsteps and is projected to continue and increase in severity and frequency.

The report says that we are not on track to meet the Paris climate agreement, and based on all scenarios, will see a 1.5C increase in global temperatures by 2021 to 2040 and will exceed this increase by 2041 onwards, reaching up to 3C in temperature increase by 2060 and, up to 5.7C at the end of the century using the highest emissions scenario.

Grappling, coping, fighting and adapting to climate change

According to The Guardian article, “Global heating above 1.5°C will be “catastrophic” for Pacific Island nations and could lead to the loss of entire countries due to sea-level rise within the century, experts have warned.

It says that the Pacific Islands has been the “canary in the coalmine” for climate change. And the regions have suffered from king tides, disastrous storms, saltwater intrusion making growing food very challenging, droughts, and gradual loss of low-lying areas to sea-level rise as the planet warms.

According to BBC news, the Pacific Islands and low-income countries are grappling with climate change effects. Developing countries with climate adaptation plans have increased, but climate adaptation plans have not necessarily reduced extreme events’ risks.

The article says that Sonam Wangdi, chair of the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group on Climate Change, emphasised that the current plan is not enough and countries need to adapt to the worsening climate.

You can read some examples of failed adaptation efforts in developing countries in the article. In the Caribbean countries of Antigua and Barbuda, their buildings cannot withstand the intense winds and storms.

These two Caribbean nations used to prepare for category four hurricanes, but now they are bracing for category five’s that brought it 180 miles per hour winds. Fiji’s seawalls constructed as adaptation measures are crumbling against storm surges brought by strong cycles.

Ugandans planted trees and dug trenches to protect themselves from landslips and floods and prevent soil erosion, only to be washed out by floods and heavy rains.

The article says that a new study from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) finds that 46 LDCs don’t lack the financial means to climate-proof themselves. The report says that these countries need at least $40 billion a year for climate adaptation, but they only received $5.9 billion for climate finance.

During the UN Climate convention, 23 developed countries renewed their pledge to give $100 billion every year, starting in 2020, to support LDCs’ climate projects like strategies to reduce emissions, adaptation, and mitigation plans. Funds will be distributed through international climate financing organisations like the GCF.

However, only $80 billion was made available, with only 21% being used for climate adaptation, and the rest went towards reducing carbon emissions. Experts say that politics can hinder climate adaptations.

Pacific countries have been at the forefront of fighting climate change

In her interview with the TVNZ’s Breakfast, Mary Moeono-Kolio of Pacific Climate Warriors expressed that the Pacific leaders and climate warriors have always signalled this crisis for decades. Kolio won the Impact Award for Climate in New Zealand for her advocacy in helping Pacific Island people cope with the devastations of climate change.

Mary Moeono-Kolio

She and the Pacific Climate Warriors seek to challenge the narrative that Pacific countries and people are weak and vulnerable. On the contrary, they have been at the forefront of climate change and fighting it for decades. She says they don’t have the luxury to feel defeated, and they have to maintain hope.

She mentioned that while the IPCC report is grim, it provides a window of opportunity to act with the urgency required to address the climate crisis. The Sixth Assessment Report should also fuel the actions we need while holding accountable high emitting countries, including New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, Kolio added.

Regarding New Zealand’s climate change efforts, she said that the country had taken the first steps in addressing climate change, but it needs to step up its efforts.

She also mentioned that they could not allow Australia’s plan to open the Adani coal mine, the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere. She said that New Zealand has been bold enough to call out the French; it also needs to be bold enough to call out its cousins across the border to put a halt to this project due to the catastrophic impacts it will cause not only to the Pacific but also for the global community.

Source Citation:

Lyons, K. (2021, August 9). IPCC report shows ‘possible loss of entire countries within the century’. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/10/ipcc-report-shows-possible-loss-of-entire-countries-within-the-century

Khadka, N. (2021, August 9). Climate change: Low-income countries ‘can’t keep up’ with impacts. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-58080083

IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pacific background image is owned by Ana Maria De Asis; Mary Moeono-Kolio’s photo via LinkedIn.

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