The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Working Group II report and contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, the “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” on 28th February.
The report is the second of the three reviews from the IPCC Sixth Assessment Cycle. The first report was the contribution from Working Group I, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, which was published in August 2021.
The third report from Working Group III, set to be released this year, will focus on climate change mitigation, reducing emissions, and removing GHG from the atmosphere.
The Working Group II’s report assesses climate change impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity and human communities at a global and regional level. It also reviews the vulnerabilities, capacities and limitations of human societies and the natural world to adapt to climate change.
There are three versions of the Working Group II report:
- The Full report contains 18 chapters and is 3,675 pages long.
- The Summary for Policymakers report is 37 pages long and provides a high-level summary of the key finds of the report.
- The Technical Summary report, which contains 96 pages, provides an extended summary of the key findings and serves as a link between the full report and the summary report.
Many mainstream news outlets have given their take and summary of the report since the release of the second series of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report (AR6).
The BBC reports that “Many of the impacts of global warming are now simply “irreversible” yet humanity still has a brief window of time to avoid the very worst impacts. Over 40% of the world’s population are highly vulnerable to the climate, but there is still hope if the temperature is kept below 1.5°C – it will reduce the projected losses (McGrath, 2022).
Under all emissions scenarios, billions of people will be at risk from coastal specific hazards in the next few decades.
If temperature rise reaches 1.7°C and 1.8°C above the preindustrial levels, humans will be exposed to life-threatening conditions from heat and humidity.
Diseases will likely spread more quickly as climate conditions make it easier for mosquito-borne diseases to spread, affecting billions of people. And for the first time, the report states that extreme weather events and the loss of livelihoods and culture can worsen mental health issues.
Then there are also threats to species. About half of the organisms are moving to higher ground, towards the poles. Up to 14% of the species will be at high risk of extinction if the world warms by 1.5°C, and will go up to 29% at 3°C of warming.
Researchers also warn of going over 1.5C in temperature rise as this will increase the risk of hitting the tipping points and triggering feedback in the climate systems like permafrost thawing, which will release additional GHG to the atmosphere. When this happens, “That would make it a lot more difficult, it could make it impossible to get back below 1.5C.” says Linda Schneider from the Heinrich Boll Institute.
The Summary for Policymakers focuses on effective climate adaptations strategies. However, the effectiveness of climate adaptation will decrease as global warming increases pushing human and natural capacities to their adaptation limits.
The IPCC report is also crystal clear that adapting to the climate crisis is as much a social problem as a scientific one. The best way to give effective and lasting protection from climate chaos is through action that addresses “inequities such as those based on gender, ethnicity, disability, age, location and income” (Carrington, 2022).
Carrington (2022) quotes an excerpt from the IPCC report:
“Targeting a climate-resilient, sustainable world involves fundamental changes to how society functions, including changes to underlying values, world-views, ideologies, social structures, political and economic systems, and power relationships,” the report’s authors said in an accompanying document. “This may feel overwhelming at first, but the world is changing anyway – climate-resilient development offers us ways to drive change to improve wellbeing for all.”
Watch IPCC’s Debra Roberts explain the importance of the report to inform choices that will shape our future:
Working Group II Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. (2022). IPCC. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/working-group/wg2/
McGrath, M. (2022 March 1). Climate change: IPCC report warns of ‘irreversible’ impacts of global warming. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-60525591
Carrington, D. (2022, February 28). This climate crisis report asks: what is at stake? In short, everything. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/28/what-at-stake-climate-crisis-report-everything
Debra Roberts on the Working Group contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report. (2022, February 23). IPCC. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E1hDTRH9_U