Consisting of 3,675 pages, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released their most recent report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The IPCC is the United Nations’ panel for assessing the science related to climate change.
About the 2022 IPCC report
The IPCC regularly prepares comprehensive reports about the state of scientific, technical, and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is occurring.
The most recent 2022 report assesses the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. The report also reviews the vulnerabilities, capacities, and limits of nature and human society to adapt to climate change. The full report is a long read and a bit overwhelming. If you’re still working your way through it, the FigBytes team dove in and identified three themes that are important for business leaders in North America:
1. Climate impacts are increasing in frequency, intensity, and severity
The report found that since the previous assessment, climate change impacts have become more frequent, intense, and have affected many millions of people across the world.
In North America, accelerating climate hazards, especially related to heatwaves, heavy precipitation, and snowpack, pose significant risks to the wellbeing of populations and the natural, managed, and human systems on which we depend.
The report also determined that multiple aspects of climate change have affected livelihoods, economic activities, infrastructure, and access to services. Most sectors of the North American economy have been impacted by extreme weather, including hurricanes, flooding, and intense rainfall events. Which is why organizations must do their part to reduce their impact on climate change.
Business and organization leaders should especially be concerned with these findings from the report:
- Already stressed water resources are expected to become further stressed by climate change.
- Climate change has affected yields of major crops, and projections indicate continued declines.
- Infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change.
- North American food production is increasingly affected by climate change, with immediate impacts on the food security of Indigenous Peoples.
Reina Rexhmataj, FigBytes Sr. Implementation Consultant, shared this insight from her review of the report, “There’s still room for change but that gap is very quickly closing. Certain impacts are irreversible and have already taken place—species extinction, loss of biodiversity. Others are approaching irreversibility—glacier retreat and changes to our permafrost. This all affects food production, cities, infrastructure, water, energy, and our natural environment. The report lists the numerous ways we can slow down the impact. It is important that we pay attention and find solutions that balance tech, innovation, and natural restoration.”
2. Near term mitigation and immediate action is required to reduce climate change risks
One of the key findings of the report was that current practices will be increasingly insufficient to adapt to climate-induced risks. What we are currently doing to fight climate change isn’t enough and more action is needed.
“This is not new data, this is not a new conversation, climate scientists have been saying this for many years. The lack of action and progress is correlated to where the world is now, and we need to be mitigating future impacts. Organizations and governments need to start aligning their policies with the guidelines set out by the climate science community today,” Rexhmataj emphasized.
The report also found that equitable, inclusive, and participatory approaches that integrate climate impact projections into near-term and long-term decision-making reduce future risks. Meaning when businesses, organizations, communities, and governments incorporate climate risks into their planning, they help reduce the potential of negative outcomes from future extreme weather events and intensifying climate change impacts.
The report found increasingly more organizations, governments, and private investors are investing in:
- Early warning and rapid response systems
- Climate and ecological forecasting tools
- Integrated climate scenario planning methods
To support planning for a future with more climate risks, the report advises that widespread adoption of these practices and tools is necessary:
- Infrastructure planning
- Disaster risk reduction
- Ecosystem management
- Budgeting practices
Time is running out to quell the impacts of climate change, which is why mitigation is no longer optional and immediate action is required. Future-focused organizations need to incorporate these practices and tools recommended by the IPCC into their business and sustainability strategies for real change to occur.
3. Investment in adaptation, development of long-term goals, and legislation are all needed to limit future impacts of climate change
“In comparison to the previous reports, there is a definite shift in tone, from ‘here is the science of climate change and what we predict’ to ‘climate change is here, and we need to adapt.’ It’s an aggressive call to action for corporations, financial institutions, and governments to cut emissions by 2030 through science-based targets initiatives,” Rexhmataj commented.
The report states that, “Even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C, human life, safety, and livelihoods across North America, especially in coastal areas will be placed at risk from sea level rise (SLR), severe storms, and hurricanes.” It’s necessary for businesses, organizations, and governments to begin prioritizing and improving their adaptation strategies. Current practices will be increasingly insufficient without coordination and integration of efforts through equitable policy focused on modifying land use impacts, consumption patterns, economic activities, and emphasizing nature-based solutions.
The report also found that long-term adaptation planning, implementation, and coordination across industries and governments supports equitable and effective climate solutions.
Adaptations for reducing current climate impacts and future risks include:
- Technological innovation
- Institutional capacity-building
- Economic diversification
- Infrastructure design
Adaptation options specific to North America as recommended by the report:
- Equitable, inclusive, and participatory approaches that integrate climate impact projections into near-term and long-term decision-making
- Supporting Indigenous self-determination, recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and supporting Indigenous knowledge-based adaptation
- Coordination, planning, and national support with sufficient financial resources to implement climate-resilient policies and infrastructure
Interested in diving in a bit deeper but don’t have the time to read the full report? Here are a few key sections we found most relevant to business leaders in North America:
- North America Fact Sheet
- Summary for Policymakers
- Technical Summary
- Frequently Asked Questions
- IPCC Report Chapter 14: North America
- IPCC Report Chapter 17: Decision-making options for managing risk
Need help identifying your organization’s climate change impacts, preparing for future risk, and sharing your environmental sustainability efforts with stakeholders? We can help. The FigBytes ESG Insights Platform manages ESG data, reporting, strategy, and stakeholder engagement for all your purpose-driven goals.