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2022 IPCC’s Climate Change report calls for urgent action

17 / Mar / 2022Climate Change

2022 IPCC’s Climate Change report calls for urgent action

Trends can still be halted and reversed by restoring, rebuilding and strengthening ecosystems.

Climate change, with its slow-onset events like sea level rise and ocean acidification, is drastically and progressively affecting our world’s biodiversity and ecosystems. Rising temperatures and extreme events such as droughts, wildfires, floods and heatwaves are exposing nature to conditions not experienced for at least tens of thousands of years. The more often ecosystems are impacted by these extreme events and the more intense the event, the further they are pushed towards so-called tipping points, from which recovery will be impossible. There is an urgent need for criteria at the ecosystem level to not only raise awareness about their threats, but to also demonstrate how improved ecosystem management can reduce risks, enhance resilience, and be a means for adaptation.

On the other hand, as impacts continue to increase, the structure, functioning and resilience of ecosystems and thus the services they provide, including their ability to regulate our world’s climate will weaken drastically. To recover this balance, drastic greenhouse gas emissions reductions are required now to avoid further global warming and its deadly impacts on ecosystems around the world. This realization, along with the urgent actions needed to halt and tackle the climate crisis are clearly stated in the newest IPCC report.

The Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) released on february 28 assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. The report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Working Group II Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report , also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.

This new report focuses on solutions and at the same time emphasizes on the urgency to make fundamental changes in society, and actions to conserve and restore nature in order to meet the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Highlighting the fact that the strong and interdependent relationships between climate, nature and people are fundamental to reaching these goals.

“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future” - Hans-Otto Pörtner

Thus, the imperative to establish methods for assessing ecosystems that integrate emerging patterns of climate change stress becomes necessary, as this provides a clear pathway toward climate change adaptation that not only diminishes current stressors, but also addresses the most likely effects of climate change over the upcoming decades.

In a recent publication, Addressing Climate Change Vulnerability in the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems—Results Demonstrated for a Cross-Section of Major Vegetation-Based Ecosystem Types in the United States , climate change vulnerability was estimated using the Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Index (HCCVI) and then factored into RLE assessments. The HCCVI is a framework developed by Nature Serve to determine how vulnerable a given natural community or habitat type might be to climate change. It utilizes available data and expert knowledge to evaluate relative climate change exposure (ecological stress caused by climate change), and resilience (the ability to cope with ecological stress and avoid collapse).

 

02 Using Ecosystems  News

Figure. Analytical framework for the NatureServe Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Index (from Comer et al. 2019)

 

The HCCVI information can be directly integrated into the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems framework, as indicates a pervasive form of environmental degradation suitable for inclusion in red list assessments (under criterion C2) and may be replicated across all types of ecosystems in every continent. Therefore, it becomes imperative to establish methods for red listing that integrate emerging patterns of climate change stress, providing a clear pathway toward climate change adaptation.

 

Written by: Susana Barreto

Style & format: Lila Garcia

 

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Studying the collapse of ecosystems opens a window towards the future, towards what may happen, but also one towards the past, towards the formation of the ecosystems that we currently know.