The controversial final draft, with verbage negotiations encompassing 100 countries and with some resignations by scientists over the tone, says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans and that the world is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate.
Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability from Working Group II of the IPCC details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report. There were also 436 contributing authors and a 1,729 expert and government reviewers.
The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a
changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate
change will also continue to produce surprises. It identifies vulnerable people, industries,
and ecosystems around the world. It finds that risk from a changing climate comes from
vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Each of these three components can be a target for smart actions to decrease risk.
“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Adaptation to reduce the risks from a changing climate is now starting to occur, but with a stronger focus on reacting to past events than on preparing for a changing future, according to Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried. Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation,” Field said. “This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change.”