UN report to sound alarm on impacts of climate change

A new UN report is expected to warn against the devastating impacts of climate change on people and nature. (Credit: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema)

Countries will meet over the next two weeks to approve the latest of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) stark warnings as a warming climate continues to threaten millions of lives. The flagship report will lay out a scientific overview of the devastating impacts of rising temperatures and how the world can adapt accordingly.

Starting Monday, representatives of nearly 200 governments will comb through a summary of the thousand-page document, and approve it line-by-line. Report authors, who have been working on the draft for the past five years, will attend the discussions to answer questions and “have the final say”, according to an IPCC statement from Friday.

A first report, released in August, had warned that the Earth’s climate was undergoing “unprecedented” changes in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, with many of them such as sea level rise being irreversible.

“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk,” UN secretary general Antonio Guterres had reacted at the time.

This second part, which will be publicly released on 28 February after the two-week gathering, details what those changes mean for the planet’s land and ocean ecosystems, but also for cities and other human settlements.

The report will also assess the security risks climate change poses for millions of people, as changes in rainfall patterns and worsening weather events threaten crops, and ocean warming and acidification causes fish stocks to decline.

“The upcoming climate report from the IPCC is expected to lay bare the devastating impacts that delayed action and weak implementation of countries’ climate promises are having on people and nature,” Stephen Cornelius of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said in a statement.

Bleak future put aside, the report also offers insights into the solutions needed to cope with the risks of climate change – as well as the dangers of applying measures that are more harmful than helpful.