The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a report that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans.
The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.
The report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks.
A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report.
They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.
The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world.
The report identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world.
“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Working Group II co-chair Vicente Barros. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Adaptation to reduce the risks from a changing climate is now starting to occur, but with a stronger focus on reacting to past events than on preparing for a changing future, according to Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II.
Mr Field said: “Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried. Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation. This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continues to change.”
Observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods.
The striking feature of observed impacts is that they are occurring from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest.
Adaptation can play a key role in decreasing these risks, Mr Barros noted. “Part of the reason adaptation is so important is that the world faces a host of risks from climate change already baked into the climate system, due to past emissions and existing infrastructure,” said Mr Barros.