Filed Under:Risk, Climate Change

Climate Change Imminent, But Adaptation, Mitigation Can Reduce Risks

NU Online News Service, Nov. 18, 2:24 p.m. EST

Climate change will lead to 10 times the number of hotter days in many areas, with more heavy precipitation and higher wind speeds globally, but adaption and mitigation can reduce the risks significantly, according to a new report.

The “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX) was approved today by member governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to the IPCC, the report evaluates the role of climate change in altering characteristics of extreme events.

The report says:

  • Observations since 1950 show changes in some extreme events, particularly daily temperature extremes, and heat waves.
  • It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase in the 21st century over many regions.
  • It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency of warm daily-temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur throughout the 21st century on a global scale.
  • It is very likely—90 percent to 100 percent probability—that heat waves will increase in length, frequency, and/or intensity over most land areas.
  • It is likely that the average maximum wind speed of tropical cyclones will increase throughout the coming century, although possibly not in every ocean basin. However it is also likely—with a 66 per cent to 100 percent probability—that overall there will be either a decrease or essentially no change in the number of tropical cyclones.
  • There is evidence, providing a basis for medium confidence, that droughts will intensify over the coming century in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa. Confidence is limited because of definitional issues regarding how to classify and measure a drought, a lack of observational data, and the inability of models to include all the factors that influence droughts.

The report notes that an iterative process involving monitoring, research, evaluation, learning, and innovation can reduce disaster risk of climate extremes.

Many measures for managing current and future risks have additional benefits, such as improving peoples’ livelihoods and human well-being and conserving biodiversity, according to the report.

Measures include systems that warn people of impending disasters, changes in land-use planning, sustainable land management, ecosystem management and improvements in health surveillance, water supplies, and drainage systems. The report also recommends enforcement of building codes and better education and awareness.

Effective risk management generally involves a portfolio of actions, from improving infrastructure to building individual and institutional capacity, in order to reduce risk and respond to disasters, according to the report.

Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction provide an opportunity for reducing the risks posed by future weather- and climate-related disasters (robust evidence, high agreement).

Risk management works best when tailored to local circumstances. Combining local knowledge with additional scientific and technical expertise helps communities reduce their risk and adapt to climate change, according to the report.

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