THE STORM OF THE CENTURY COULD SOON HAPPEN EVERY YEAR: “The timescale [for major storms] is changing dramatically, and may become irrelevant in categorizing storms,” says Mandy Ikert, Director, Water and Adaptation Initiative – C40

Note to Reader:

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere.

The IPCC approved and accepted Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate at its 51st Session held on 20 – 23 September 2019. The approved Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was presented at a press conference on 25 September 2019.

The report reveals the benefits of ambitious and effective adaptation for sustainable development and, conversely, the escalating costs and risks of delayed action.

Global warming has already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level, due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions. There is overwhelming evidence that this is resulting in profound consequences for ecosystems and people. The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.

The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.

“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

“If we reduce emissions sharply, consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable,” Lee said. “We increase our ability to build resilience and there will be more benefits for sustainable development.”

Knowledge assessed in the report outlines climate-related risks and challenges that people around the world are exposed to today and that future generations will face. It presents options to adapt to changes that can no longer be avoided, manage related risks and build resilience for a sustainable future. The assessment shows that adaptation depends on the capacity of individuals and Tcommunities and the resources available to them.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of the IPCC press release: Choices made now are critical for the future of our ocean and cryosphere.

The Storm of the Century Could Soon Happen Every Year

“In a rapidly warming world, extreme storms that typically occur once per century could hit the world’s coastal cities at least once per year by 2050. By that time, more than 1 billion people are projected to live in the low-lying areas that will be in the path of those storms,” wrote Linda Poon in an article published by CityLab.

The timescale [for major storms] is changing dramatically, and may become irrelevant in categorizing storms,” says Mandy Ikert, who heads the adaptation initiative at C40, a coalition of 94 cities tackling climate change. “Copenhagen … has experienced, over a four-year period, a 1-in-1,000 year storm, followed by a 1-in-200 year storm, followed by a 1-in-500 year storm.”

“This is a wake-up call that we still need to do more to mitigate as much [climate impact] as possible. We’re not going back to normal—whatever normal once was.”

Around the world, C40 Cities connects 94 of the world’s greatest cities to take bold climate action. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe.

To Learn More:

To read the complete article by Linda Poon, download a copy of UN Climate Report’s Dire Warning to Coastal Cities