Wall Street JournalClimate Change Impact Is Wide, U.N. Says
Scientists Call for Swift Action on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By Alexander Martin
Updated March 31, 2014 8:20 a.m. ETTOKYO
—Global warming is having an impact on human and natural systems world-wide, scientists warned in a report Monday, calling for swift action to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
The report, released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the second portion of a four-part report, and follows the September release of the first portion, which focused on scientific evidence for global warming.
"What happens in terms of impact of climate change in different parts of the world will be determined to a large extent [by how much] we are prepared and able to mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gasses," IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri said.
The report said that besides an increase in global average temperature, climate change was having a widespread impact on everything from water resources to food production and weather patterns.
It said that without action to address the problem, by the year 2100, hundreds of millions of people could be affected by coastal flooding and displaced due to land loss.
"Impacts from recent extreme climatic events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, show significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to climate variability," the report warned.
The report said climate change may affect the reliability of pipelines and electricity grids, as well as tourism resorts, especially ski and beach resorts.
It also said climate change had the largest impact on people who are socially and economically marginalized.
"Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low and lower-middle income countries, including high mountain states, countries at risk from sea-level rise, and countries with indigenous peoples, and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries in which inequality is increasing," it said.
But funding needed to offset the impact of climate change is lacking, the report warned, saying developing countries would need between $70 billion to $100 billion a year to implement needed measures. And efforts to reduce the effects of climate change would only have a marginal effect on reducing poverty unless "structural inequalities are addressed and needs for equity among poor and nonpoor people are met."
The report was the culmination of efforts by hundreds of scientists, and portrays a sobering picture of what civilization may face in the coming decades, and emphasized that climate change is happening now.
"Present-day choices thus affect the risks of climate change throughout the 21st century," it said.
Economically, the report said a global-temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels could lead to global economic losses between 0.2% and 2.0% of income. By the end of the century, it said climate change could reduce labor productivity by 11% to 27% in humid, tropical areas.
The IPCC's credibility has come under scrutiny since a 2007 report that contained errors about the pace of the melting of Himalayan glaciers.