IPCC report on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation: widespread effects already occurring

The recently released report of the IPCC’s Working Group II on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation, of which I was an author, makes it quite clear that impacts from climate change are already being felt in all regions of the world. Taken together with the Working Group I report on the physical basis of climate change, the message is clear: the window of opportunity to keep warming by 2100 to below 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels is rapidly closing. We are currently on track for an increase of 4 degrees or more. This would result in extremely high impacts on Africa’s food security, which we may not be able to adapt to in any meaningful way.

So, big take-home message: while we do need to ramp up adaptation planning and responses, the best adaptation for Africa would be mitigation. “Early and aggressive emissions reductions”, as Professor Bob Scholes put it at the IPCC media event organised by the Academy of Science of South Africa in Johannesburg last week. See the Mail and Guardian’s coverage of this here.

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