The Second Part Of The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report
United Nations on Monday published the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, emphasising that countries are far from prepared to meet the consequences of climate change. The research warned that over half of the world's population was already exposed to more hazardous climate consequences. The report also demanded massive action to deal with the consequences that we may face in the coming day.
The IPCC, a global body of scientists that makes periodic reviews of climate science, on Monday released the second part of its sixth assessment report. The first part of this report, on the physical science of climate change, was released in August last year. It had warned that 1.5 degrees Celsius warming was likely to be achieved before 2040 itself. This second part of the report is about climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and adaptation options. The latest report warns that multiple disasters induced by climate change are likely to emerge in different parts of the world in the next two decades, even if adequate efforts are made to keep the global rise in temperatures within 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times. If the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is breached, even if temporarily, there are likely to be “additional severe impacts”, some of them irreversible, it says.
The latest warnings have come in the second part of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report which talks about climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and adaptation options. The first part report was released in August last year. That one was centred around the scientific basis of climate change. The third and final part of the report, which will look into the possibilities of reducing emissions, is expected to come out in April. The Assessment Reports, the first of which had come out in1990, are the most comprehensive evaluations of the state of the earth’s climate. Hundreds of experts go through every available piece of relevant, published scientific information to prepare a common understanding of the changing climate. The four subsequent assessment reports, each thousands of pages long, came out in 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2015. These have formed the basis of the global response to climate change.
India will face extreme scenarios emerging from climate change on almost all fronts — from rising sea levels to groundwater scarcity, from extreme weather patterns to a fall in crop production, besides a rise in health hazards. By the middle of the century, around 35 million people in India could face annual coastal flooding, with 45-50 million at risk by the end of the century,” says the report by the IPCC Working Group (WG)-II.
The latest report has, for the first time, made an assessment of regional and sectoral impacts of climate change. It has included risks to, and vulnerabilities of, mega-cities around the world. For example, it has said Mumbai is at high risk of sea-level rise and flooding, while Ahmedabad faces serious danger of heat-waves. Such granular information was not available in previous assessment reports. Flooding in Mumbai and heat waves in Ahmedabad are common occurrences. What this report has done is to look at granular data affecting these events, and quantified these risks, so that there is a much clearer understanding of the threats posed to these cities.
Also for the first time, the IPCC report has looked at the health impacts of climate change. It has found that climate change is increasing vector-borne and water-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue, particularly in sub-tropical regions of Asia. It has also said deaths related to circulatory, respiratory, diabetic and infectious diseases, as well as infant mortality, are likely to increase with a rise in temperature. Increasing frequency of extreme weather events like heatwaves, flooding and drought, and even air pollution was contributing to under-nutrition, allergic diseases and even mental disorders.
IPCC reports form the scientific basis on which countries across the world build their policy responses to climate change. These reports, on their own, are not policy prescriptive: They do not tell countries or governments what to do. They are only meant to present factual situations with as much scientific evidence as is possible. And yet, these can be of immense help in formulating the action plans to deal with climate change. The detailed nature of this latest report, with respect to regional and sectoral impacts, presents actionable intelligence, particularly for countries that lack the resources or the capacity to make their own impact assessments. The fact that these findings are the product of the combined understanding of the largest group of experts on climate science lends it a credibility greater than any individual study.