The “Working Group 2, Fifth Assessment Report” covers the likely impacts of climate change and our capacity to adapt to future climate risks. From the last major review of almost six years ago, it provides a strengthened body of evidence on observed impacts and future risks of climate change.
The report is the work of over 310 scientific experts drawn from universities and research institutes in 73 different countries around the world.
Although the IPCC didn’t focus on individual countries, the ‘impacts, vulnerability and adaptation’ report did identify three key risks from climate change for Europe:
- Increased economic losses and more people affected by flooding in river basins and coasts, as urbanisation continues, sea levels rise and peak river flows increase;
- Increased water restrictions. Significant reduction in water availability from river abstraction and from groundwater resources combined with increased water demand (eg for irrigation, energy and industry and domestic use);
- Increased economic losses and people affected by extreme heat events: impacts on health and well-being, labour productivity, crop production and air quality
The UK will also be impacted by global issues such as rising food prices. High levels of adaptation can significantly reduce but not remove these risks.
Various groups were quick to respond.
Secretary of State Edward Davey said:
“This report represents the most comprehensive look at the impacts of climate change ever written – involving a huge amount of work by over 310 scientific experts drawn from universities and research institutes in 73 different countries around the world.
“The science has clearly spoken. Left unchecked, climate change will impact on many aspects of our society, with far reaching consequences to human health, global food security and economic development.
“The recent flooding in the UK is a testament to the devastation that climate change could bring to our daily lives.
“The UK is leading from the front and working with our European partners. We’ve adopted some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world. We are investing in low carbon and energy efficiency technologies, with an increased focus on home-grown renewables, to reduce our reliance of foreign imports and create a sustainable supply of affordable energy for consumers and businesses alike.
“We are also pushing for an ambitious EU energy and climate change package that will lead to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and will take us on the next step to tackling climate change.”
“It increases the clarity of the case for both the global community to step up its action to keep global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius and the fact that if the world fails to act decisively, then the economic and social costs will be severe.
“Scotland, through our world leading, Climate Change Scotland Act (2009) and subsequent steps, have taken decisive, unilateral action and we know that early action will reduce our long term transition costs. We have not waited for others to stop prevaricating and see sense and I know that the IPCC Chair, Dr RK Pachauri has praised Scotland’s work in this important area in the recent past.
“Climate change is one of the most serious challenges to global society and the natural environment both at home and abroad.
“That is why the Scottish Government, supported by the Scottish Parliament, has set world-leading greenhouse gas emission reduction targets with detailed plans on how to meet them.
“We are also developing Scotland’s first statutory Climate Change Adaptation Programme for publication later this year to increase the resilience of Scotland’s people, environment and economy to the impacts of a changing climate.”
The UK Green Building Council has been outspoken and Paul King, Chief Executive of UK-GBC, says that the report argues that the world is ‘ill-prepared’ for risks from a changing climate but that opportunities to respond to such risks still exist.
“The latest IPCC report makes clear that the impacts of climate change have well and truly arrived. While adapting to these and future impacts is of huge importance, the report also makes clear that mitigation remains a priority, in order to minimise the extent of the risks posed.
“The built environment is on the front line in both the adaptation and mitigation battle – through increased resilience to risks such as flooding and warmer temperatures, and because of the huge opportunity for cutting energy use in the construction and property sector, which accounts for a third of global carbon emissions.”
“Business as usual means a very grim future, especially if you live in a poor country, where floods, droughts, food shortages and rising sea levels will make life very difficult indeed.
“But nowhere will escape major impacts, as global food production is devastated and hundreds of millions of people flee homelands no longer able to support them. This report is a very stark reminder of why the world needs to give up on fossil fuels as quickly as possible to make sure the worst of these predictions don’t come true. World leaders need to step up with tough emission reduction pledges at Ban Ki-Moon’s summit in September and agree an effective global climate deal in Paris at the end of next year.”
“Temperatures are up, polar ice is disappearing and the oceans are getting more acid. Scientists are clear climate change is real, is caused by humans and is already having severe impacts on people and nature. The world is already a degree warmer than it was, and could be heading for a disastrous 4.5 degrees of warming by 2100. The world’s politicians can’t continue to stand idly by while the world goes spinning towards a climate catastrophe.
“Faced with overwhelming scientific evidence, supported by the public, there is no excuse for failing to act on climate change.”