SCMP: Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous disruptions to ecosystems and leaving billions around the world highly vulnerable to the consequences, according to the latest report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, is a strong wake-up call to what will happen if we don’t act swiftly and now. The report illustrates how socioeconomic and natural systems are profoundly vulnerable and describes the widespread loss and damage caused by human-induced climate change.
Impacts are especially potent because they can happen in multiple layers, leading to compounding risks that cascade across regions. For instance, simultaneously occurring heat and drought events can compromise food production and labour productivity, which in turn can increase food prices and lead to risk of malnutrition.
Adverse effects can further spread across national boundaries through supply chains and natural resource flows. These impacts are not happening in a far-off future; billions of people are already experiencing them today.
While the Paris Agreement brought the idea of climate mitigation into the global spotlight, the IPCC reminds us that no matter the emissions scenario, many climate risks are already becoming unavoidable. Governments must therefore expend more effort on adapting to the effects of climate change. However, most climate-related funding is allocated to mitigation while progress on adaptation is highly uneven.
For populations around the world to adapt to climate change, we need climate justice. Climate justice emphasises how vulnerability to climate change differs substantially among and within regions, driven by unequal development, unsustainable resource use, as well as historical and present patterns of marginalisation.
If current vulnerability is based on past and present development trends, then our future is in our hands: the choices that we make today and tomorrow will determine our future.
The IPCC advocates “climate resilient development”. This means development that simultaneously practices mitigation, adaptation, and improves equity.
Climate resilience development hinges on inclusive governance and institutional frameworks that are flexible to emergent risks and supportive of partnerships. Partnership-building within communities is crucial to ensure that resilience measures target local conditions and adequately address inequities among traditionally marginalised groups.
In other words, pathways towards a climate-resilient future are not only decided at the top, but can more importantly be grounded in choices that we make about how to organise our societies and economies.
Heightened ambition, greater collaboration, and increased sustainable investment will allow us to develop a greener, healthier, more liveable, and more equitable future.
Originally published on SCMP on 24 Mar 2022. Written by Lawrence Iu and Lauren Chan.