By Sharon Atieno

With the latest Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report showing that despite efforts to reduce risks, human-induced climate change causes dangerous and widespread disruption in nature affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, countries have been urged to accelerate positive and sustainable adaptation practices.

Dr. Joseph Mutemi, Scientist, University of Nairobi said during an Africa Science Media Centre (AfriSMC) briefing, adding that if humanity is living in an unsustainable way and exploiting resources unsustainably, the planet will reach the tipping point going beyond the 1.5°C threshold.

Dr. Joseph Mutemi during the briefing

According to the IPCC Working Group II report, the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C. It cautions temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible.

Already, increased heat waves, droughts and floods are exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals.

In addition, these weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, resulting in impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage such as acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.

Further, the report says that biodiversity loss, and degradation, damages to and transformation of ecosystems are already key risks for every region due to past global warming and will continue to escalate with every increment of global warming.

To reduce climate risks, the report itself emphasizes the need to accelerate actions towards adaptation and mitigation, noting that progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks.

To accelerate positive adaptation practices which are in harmony with natural systems, Dr. Mutemi said there are some measures that need to be put in place.

These include political commitment which entails proper regulations and enforcement, good institutional frameworks with clear goals, priorities and responsibilities, and knowledge enhancement of impacts and risks to improve response.

He added that continuous monitoring and evaluation of adaptation measures are essential to track progress and enable effective adaptation.

Also, inclusive governance that prioritizes equity and justice in adaptation planning and implementation leads to more effective and sustainable adaptation outcomes.

Dr. Mutemi noted that combining greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation measures to support sustainable development will result in climate resilient development in the long term.

However, the report observes that climate resilient development is already challenging at current warming levels, adding that it will become more limited if global warming exceeds 1.5°C.

The IPCC Working Group II report is the second of three reviews from the global climate change body. The 2021 IPCC report highlighted that human activities are the major contributors to climate change while the 2022 IPCC report explores future impacts at different levels of warming and the resulting risks and offers options to strengthen nature’s and society’s resilience to ongoing climate change, to fight hunger, poverty, and inequality and keep Earth a place worth living on – for current as well as for future generations.