The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report Monday on the impact of climate change at their gathering in Yokohama, Japan. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability uses strong language to emphasise its conclusion that global warming is happening right now and will get worse unless the world acts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Image via Belspo / Nevens

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from Working Group II concludes that climate change is already impacting natural and human systems via Arctic sea ice melting, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, thawing permafrost, extreme weather, flooding from heavy rains, water shortages from prolonged droughts, heat waves and more. And the threat from man-made global warming will only get worse.

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“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report states.

A total of 309 scientists from 70 countries worked for three years on the 2,600 page, 32 volume report that also benefited from the help of 436 contributing authors and 1,729 expert and government reviewers. They found that unchecked global warming poses significant challenges to people around the world, especially poor and marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to the impact of a changing climate. However, investments in climate change adaptation can reduce the risks.

“Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming,” said Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near-term and beyond.”

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Working Group III will meet in Berlin, Germany in April and the Synthesis Report for AR5 will be released this October in Copenhagen, Denmark ahead of the 2015 climate conference in Paris, France where world governments are expected to adopt a new climate change agreement.

+ Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability

Via NY Times

Lead image via Eskinder Debebe