Friday, 04 April 2014 10:39

Pay Now or Pay More Later – Climate Change Costs Rising

Written by  Jessie
Aden Jama takes one of his few remaining goats out to look for pasture during a 2012 drought in Somalia. Aden Jama takes one of his few remaining goats out to look for pasture during a 2012 drought in Somalia. Oxfam East Africa/CC BY 2.0

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, on Monday that says climate change's effects are already happening across the globe.  No continent, country or ocean is immune.  Unfortunately, in many cases, the world is not prepared for risks from a changing climate.  The report determines there are opportunities to respond to such risks but the risks become difficult to manage the more global warming there is.

"With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits," said Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II.  Field added: "Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming. We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond."

The report outlines climate change impacts experienced thus far, future risks from global warming and opportunities to reduce risks.  Some of the impacts of climate change that have already happened affect: agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people's livelihoods.  Climate change doesn't care whether your country is rich or poor, whether you're located in the tropics or the South Pole, on a small island or land-locked on a large continent.  It is affecting everyone on the planet and we must prepare now or pay a higher price later.  The scary thing is that there are limits, even on the price we can pay.

"We live in an era of man-made climate change," said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II.  "In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future."

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: "The Working Group II report is another important step forward in our understanding of how to reduce and manage the risks of climate change.  Along with the reports from Working Group I and Working Group III, it provides a conceptual map of not only the essential features of the climate challenge but the options for solutions."

The Working Group I report was released in September 2013 and the Working Group III report will be released in April 2014.  The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle ends with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014. 

The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (WGII AR5) is available at www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5 and www.ipcc.ch.

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