Here are five key takeaways from the IPCC report:
1. “Adapt or Die”
Although dismal, this is a very real choice we face. Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in areas that are highly vulnerable to climate change . For many of these communities, there will be a point where adaptation is no longer effective if temperatures continue to rise.
Adaptation is happening, but remains too incremental, short-term, and localized to enact the transformational global changes needed. The IPCC report highlights a growing “adaptation gap” between communities who can afford costly adaptation projects and those who cannot. And while developed nations have promised to help finance climate-vulnerable nations in their adaptation, pledges are slow to materialize.
2. The least fortunate are the most vulnerable
The report confirms that climate change disproportionately affects indigenous peoples, small island nations, and those living below the poverty line – the populations who have done the least to cause the problem. It states with high confidence that mortality from climate disasters was 15 times higher for “highly vulnerable” regions over the past decade.
In response, NGOs and activists are calling for trackable climate reparations, especially as industrialized countries have failed to meet the $100 billion per year climate finance target set at COP19 back in 2013.
3.Blowing paste 1.5C
4. A need for climate resilient development
Climate resilient development combines the strategies of adaptation to climate change and mitigation of emissions that worsen climate change. According to the report, our window to deliver climate resilience is still open, but it is closing fast.
5. There is hope
In the midst of dire warnings, there were glimmers of hope. The IPCC proposes feasible and effective solutions like restoring ecosystems to build natural carbon sinks and implementing climate-resilient development in cities. The reports themselves are becoming more inclusive: acknowledging the historical influence of colonialism on climate vulnerability, valuing indigenous perspectives, and including more women authors than ever in the current installation .
Overall, the report underscores the bottom line that has been clear for some time: we have a brief window to decarbonize our economy to avoid the worst effects of climate change. As Greta Thurnberg put it, “Literally everything is at stake.”