A sign stands illuminated in the plenary hall at the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference on Nov. 7, 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Science Day at COP27 shows climate talks are not keeping pace with planetary physics – Inside Climate News

The first week of climate talks in COP27 ended with another sharp warning from scientists, who said that global warming is already killing thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people each year, and that the carnage will only increase without an immediate and sharp reduction in emissions that warm the climate.

The reported death toll “is likely an underestimate as it is based on preliminary quantification of heat-related mortality,” said Kristie Ebi, a public health researcher at the University of Washington and co-author of a new report released at the United Nations climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. “The total number would be higher if all climate-sensitive health outcomes were considered for which there is an attribution to climate change,” she said.

Scientific evidence shows that the impacts of global warming go beyond slow negotiations to slow climate change, said the co-author Johann Rockstromdirector of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“You can’t keep compromising with science all the time,” he said. “You can’t negotiate with the planet, you can’t negotiate with the atmosphere. These are physical limits. And you just hurt yourself if you underestimate the power of the Earth system.

This may apply in particular to plans to adapt to the effects of global warming with measures such as adequate residential cooling or dikes. It’s time to “challenge the myth of endless adaptation,” write the authors. “People and ecosystems in different places around the world are already facing adaptation limits, and if the planet warms beyond 1.5°C or even 2°C, a more widespread exceedance of the limits of adaptation is expected. Therefore, adaptation efforts cannot substitute for ambitious mitigation.

This does not mean giving up on efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, said Simon Stiehlexecutive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He said more emphasis needs to be placed on proactive measures to protect people, “but they won’t prevent all the loss and damage we’ve seen.” Investing in mitigation is a way to reduce the need to invest in adaptation and resilience.

The “endless adaptation myth” really goes to the heart of the findings of one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent reports, which highlighted “large knowledge gaps” about how to adapt to climate change, said Aditi Mukherjiwith the International Water Management Institute.

“We don’t know which adaptation is effective in reducing risk and in which context,” she said. “And whatever we know about the effectiveness of adaptation, at higher levels of global warming, it’s fairly certain that those adaptation measures won’t remain very effective.”

The adaptation gap widens

A key area where adaptation efforts fall far short is in addressing the health effects of global warming, Ebi said.

“Under UNFCCC adaptation funds, less than half of 1% goes to health,” she said. “To be able to effectively increase resilience and reduce vulnerability, we need to put human health and well-being at the heart of the negotiations.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that “our health systems are seriously unprepared for shocks and stresses”, she said. “Climate change is a massive shock and stress that is already affecting many countries, requiring investments in health where we take into account not only human health, but also animal health, nature and all other factors that affect our health and well-being.”

Investments should now focus on reducing the number of preventable deaths from projected impacts like extreme heat and vector-borne diseases, she added.

The report highlights “vulnerability clusters” in Central America, the Sahel in North Africa, Central and East Africa, the Middle East and across Asia, where 1.6 billion people are at risk from climatic hazards. That number “could double in the coming years,” said Mercedes Bustamante, an ecologist at the University of Brasilia.

Outages or large changes in monsoon rains and increased ocean currents increase “human vulnerability in densely populated coastal areas”, she said. Focusing on hotspots of vulnerability can prioritize action areas in the context of the “loss and damage” discussions taking place at COP27, she added, referring to funds provided by the rich countries most responsible for global warming to poorer countries suffering disproportionately from heat, drought, floods and other extreme weather events linked to climate change.

The report says the international community must recognize a “planetary imperative” that the greatest harm from global warming falls on the underdeveloped countries that have done the least to cause it, while the wealthy nations responsible for the great majority of global warming emissions bear less of the worst impacts. Mukherji said new attribution science linking climate change and its destructive impacts is “helping to advance the loss and damage agenda” at COP27.

“It allows us to [identify] the fingerprint of climate change in a disaster or hazard,” she said. “It really helps to better quantify loss and damage related to climate change.”

This can lead to better use and distribution of funding, she said.

The report concluded that climate mobility should also be high on the list of COP delegates, as “involuntary migration and displacement will increasingly occur due to slow-onset impacts related to climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events”.

At the same time, climate impacts are disproportionately leaving “particularly poor and marginalized communities losing their ability to adapt as they move away”, with no choice but to stay and face growing climate threats.

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Despite the knowledge gaps, the scientists said that becoming resilient to the impacts of global warming requires moving out of response mode and broadly adopting an anticipatory approach, such as continuously reinforcing shelters, preparing for early harvest and l temporary evacuation, which can reduce the risk of protracted displacement.

Making those preparations, Rockström said, requires inclusive decision-making.

“Many social sciences show, unsurprisingly, how we need to reach out to local scales, local needs, local communities and multiple engaged stakeholders to have a chance of implementing strong climate policy,” he said. declared.

The new report was compiled by several independent scientific and advocacy organizations—The Earth League, future earth and the World Climate Research Program. All of these 10 points in the report are interconnected, and a thorough understanding of the complexities should be “at the heart of climate negotiations,” Rockström said. “Human security requires climate security.

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