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IPCC report on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation
confirms the high human costs of climate change
WMO urges governments to translate research findings
into actionable information through climate services
Yokohama, 31 March 2014 – The IPCC’s Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, a comprehensive assessment report by leading scientists launched here today, offers policymakers and the general public a wealth of information about how climate change will affect the lives of current and future generations – and what governments can do to adapt and reduce vulnerabilities.
“Over the coming decades, climate change will have mostly negative impacts on cities and infrastructure, migration and security, ecosystems and species, crops and food security, public health, water supplies, and much more. We will see more ocean acidification and extreme droughts, floods and heatwaves. The poor and vulnerable will be most affected,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which, together with the UN Environment Programme, established the IPCC in 1988.
The IPCC report details these impacts and how they are expected to vary from region to region and to evolve over the coming decades. It describes the evidence and the uncertainties, and it confirms that, without urgent and ambitious efforts to reduce emissions, climate change will cause increasingly serious impacts over the course of the 21st century. The report also assesses various options for adapting to the new climate conditions.
“This report provides invaluable guidance on how we can reduce climate vulnerabilities and adapt to the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The next step is to ‘operationalize’ some of the climate research assessed by the IPCC by transforming it into practical and actionable information. Working together, national meteorological services and other organizations will deliver increasingly sophisticated decision-support services aimed at building climate resilience, adapting to new conditions and mitigating emissions,” said Mr Jarraud.
The report confirms that advances in seasonal and longer term climate prediction now make it possible to develop effective climate services. These services combine science-based climate information and forecasts with socio-economic data and sectoral information to empower decision-makers to manage climate risks and opportunities and adapt to climate change.
In addition to “downscaling” global climate models to produce regional climate scenarios and predictions with finer resolution, researchers are conducting more impacts, adaptation and vulnerability studies at the regional, sub-regional, national and local levels. Climate services can now be fine-tuned and targeted more precisely to user needs thanks to researchers’ continuing explorations of how climate change will affect people and communities in their particular region.
“Together with the IPCC’s Physical Science Basis report issued last September, this new assessment will help WMO Members to further reduce vulnerabilities to weather and climate trends and extremes. Continuing improvements in climate monitoring systems, operational forecasts and adaptation policies will enhance the ability of meteorological services to contribute to reducing disaster risks and deliver advance warnings of storms, floods, droughts, and hot and cold extremes,” said Mr Jarraud.
While the practical application of climate information and predictions is growing rapidly, some 70 developing countries still lack the resources and expertise to ensure that their citizens can benefit from climate services. Recognizing this, the international community established the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to promote operational climate services and build capacity at the national, regional and global levels. WMO plays a lead role in this effort in cooperation with several UN and other international organizations.
For example, Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change, but many African countries lack the capacity to produce and even to use climate information for adapting to climate variability and change. According to the IPCC, even if a low-emissions scenario leads to a global warming not exceeding 2°C by 2100, Africa’s efforts to adapt will still be challenged by increases in droughts and other extreme weather events, shifts in ecosystems, reduced productivity of crops and livestock, changes in vector- and water-borne diseases, and other stresses. WMO and other service providers can assist African governments to meet these challenges by using the most up-to-date research findings on adaptation policies and measures to implement practical solutions.
Guided by these findings, and similar information about other regions and sectors, climate services can inform decisions on public health, agriculture, water management, disaster risk reduction and other priority issues. The GFCS is mobilizing support from partner countries and institutions to advance the use of climate services in the African region, including through the Norway-funded Climate Services Adaptation Programme in Africa. With support from a number of other countries, it is also implementing activities in other regions, such as the Canada-funded programmes for Implementing the GFCS at Regional and National Scales and Climate Services to Reduce Vulnerability in Haiti. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report promises to add further momentum to these efforts.
Weather, Climate and Water
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