On 27 February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second part of its sixth assessment report entitled “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”. The Working Group II report is the second installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year. Approved by 195 member governments of the IPCC, the Working Group II report focuses more strongly on solutions and adaptions to climate change than earlier reports. By introducing and using several new components, such as an atlas to present data and findings on observed climate change impacts and risks, some of Working Group II’s key findings were as follows:
- Climate change is a threat to human welfare and the health of the planet. The observed impacts, projected risks, magnitude, and trends of vulnerability indicate that global action for climate-resilient development is more urgent than previously assessed in the IPCC’s fifth assessment report (AR5) of 2014.
- Causing dangerous and widespread damage to nature and people, climate change has already led to some irreversible impacts as human systems and ecosystems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.
- Across sectors and regions, it is observed that climate change disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people. As a result, about 3.3 to 3.6 billion people, mainly living in developing countries, are highly vulnerable to climate change.
- The report expects that regions dependent on glaciers and snowmelt are expected to experience seasonal reductions in water supply of up to 50 percent.
- With rising temperature levels, losses and damages will increase and additional human and natural systems are highly likely to reach adaptation limits. If temperatures rise more than 2 degrees, many measures will lose their effect, making adaptions to climate change almost impossible.
- Compared to higher warming levels, near-term actions limiting global warming to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius would substantially reduce losses and damages related to climate change to both humans and ecosystems, but cannot eliminate them all.
- Adaption progress is likely to be unevenly distributed, with observed adaption gaps. By prioritizing immediate and near-term climate risk reduction, the opportunity for needed transformational adaptation is reduced.
- Enabling conditions, including, for example, political commitment, institutional frameworks, and mobilization of adequate financial resources, are key to the implementation, acceleration, and sustainability of adaption in natural and human systems.
Written by Nicole Lüthi (Research Assistant at the Chair of Professor Helen Keller, University of Zurich)