The latest IPCC report gives a glimpse of what a code red world may look like.

This report on the impacts of climate change is crystal clear: staying within the 1.5℃ target can massively limit negative climate impacts.

The report assesses climate change, from a global and regional perspective, in terms of the impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, and on people. It examines likely impacts on freshwater, land and ocean ecosystems, agriculture, cities, health and well-being, and what pathways exist for climate resilient, sustainable development.

If last year’s IPCC report on the scientific certainty of climate change was a ‘code red’ for humanity, then this one tells us what living in a code red world may look like and what we must do to adapt. Climate adaptation means taking action to prepare for and adjust to both the current effects of climate change and the predicted impacts in the future.

Across the world, those bearing the least responsibility for climate change are being impacted the most. The IPCC concludes that more than 3 billion people live in very vulnerable contexts, and impacts will increase significantly in the years to come. The costs, whether economic or human, are already substantial and will only escalate, sparing no country.

For Europe four key risks have been identified in the report:

  1. Heat - The number of deaths and people at risk of heat stress will increase. And warming will decrease suitable habitat space for current land and marine ecosystems and irreversibly change their composition.

  2. Agriculture - Due to a combination of heat and drought, substantive agricultural production losses are projected for most European areas over the 21st century.

  3. Water scarcity - The risk of water scarcity will increase with warming.

  4. Impacts of floods on people, economies and infrastructure - due to warming, changes in precipitation and sea level rise, risks to people and infrastructures from coastal, river, and rainfall flooding will increase in Europe. 

In Ireland, we too are experiencing the changing weather. The storms a few weeks ago sadly saw someone lose their life, children stopped from going to school, transport disrupted and infrastructure damaged.

Ireland like other countries in Europe and the EU cannot be in the back seat when it comes to addressing damages and losses from climate change. We are among the biggest pollutants in recent history and we are seeing the consequences of extreme weather events, more so now than at any other time in history, around the world and in Europe too.

The Irish government can act in two clear ways here. First by showing support and solidarity with the people in parts of the world on the frontline of climate change through the Climate Finance Roadmap and Climate Diplomacy Strategy, which are both due over coming months.

And secondly, at home it’s vital that the real lack of progress in climate adaptation across sectors is addressed by the government with the increasing risks ahead from extreme weather and predicted flooding.

To ensure a liveable future, we have to do everything we can, right away.

Kevin O'Farrell, An Taisce Climate Committee Chair

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