Is global warming irreversible? IPCC report warns us

by | Apr 4, 2023 | MOVING

Author: Carla Lostrangio (AEIDL)

In March 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a synthesis report on climate change. The report warns that only drastic and urgent action can limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Observed impacts and changes

The IPCC report summarises the last five years of reports on GHG emissions, temperature rise and climate change impacts. It acknowledges the role of human activity on global warming and the risk to move towards an irreversible future.

Human-caused climate change is already affecting all regions of the globe, but it particularly has an impact on vulnerable communities. Vulnerable communities are the ones “who have historically contributed the least to current climate change”, the IPCC report says. It also warns that it will increasingly be difficult to limit losses and damages if the world temperature raises beyond 1.5°C.

Insufficient adaptation and maladaptation

More and more regions have been progressively aware of the need to address, plan and implement climate adaptation measures. Nevertheless, the report says, most adaptation measures are “fragmented, incremental, sector-specific and unequally distributed across regions”. In addition, the report warns about the risk of growing adaptation gaps, especially between lower and higher income groups, and of maladaptation measures.

Main barriers to adaptation are scarce resources (including financial ones), lack of private sector’s involvement and low engagement of citizens, low climate literacy and lack of political commitment. The reports also highlights the lack of sufficient research related to climate change and a slow uptake of existing adaptation science.

Mountains in the IPCC report

Mountain ecosystems have gained a specific attention in the previous and current IPCC analyses . In the 2023 synthesis report, IPCC sends out its umpteenth cry of alarm for these fragile ecosystems. Many mountain ecosystems, it underlines, are already today approaching irreversibility of hydrological change. As a matter of facts, glacier and snow limit freshwater resources and seriously the equilibrium of mountain ecosystems.

In addition, the reports says that the increase in floods, landslides, and water availability have the potential to create severe consequences on people, infrastructure and economy of mountain regions. With warming above 1.5°C, mountain ecosystems will have reached or even surpassed their adaptation limits, the report emphasizes. It adds that, above that level, many “ecosystem-based adaptation measures will also lose their effectiveness”.

MOVING aims to contribute to the resilience and sustainability of mountain value chains to climate change and other socio-economic pressures.

Stay tuned to learn about its actions and outputs!