Letter to the IPCC Focal Points: Expectations from the IPCC WGII Report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

09 February 2022

Dear IPCC Focal Points,

Climate Action Network International (CAN) is the world’s largest network of over 1500 civil society organisations, from over 130 countries, working together to fight the climate crisis.

As civil society observers to various multilateral climate and other intergovernmental fora, CAN has a long history of engagement with the IPCC, as observers to the IPCC negotiations, through the involvement of various CAN scientists as reviewers and authors in IPCC reports and by providing science-based civil society perspectives to the IPCC.

At this moment in the climate emergency, the IPCC’s work is more important than ever in bringing together and assessing the latest scientific evidence on climate change that can inform policy making and development planning at the national and international levels and provide the public with clarity and credible evidence on the scale of the climate crisis. CAN stands for science-led climate policy both in the international context like the UNFCCC, the UN SDGs, CBD and in national legislation and policies.

The upcoming plenary by the IPCC, between 14 and 25 February, to approve the Summary For Policymakers of the Working Group II in the AR6 cycle is extremely critical. Issues on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability are at the forefront of our advocacy to centre the needs of those disproportionately affected by the climate crisis who are consistently on the frontlines of frequent and intensifying climate-induced extreme weather events.

CAN respects the negotiations by governments in the forthcoming IPCC meetings and we will play our role as constructive civil society observers as we have done so previously. We will uphold and amplify the credibility of the process and the findings from the IPCC report in all our public advocacy and communications. 

Climate Action Network asks you to consider the principles stated below which we believe are fundamental to delivering a robust and useful Summary for Policymakers that can inform and spur governments to take the needed rapid and far-reaching climate mitigation and adaptation actions in the near and long term.

The points below reflect the concerns and hopes of the civil society represented by CAN to make the report relevant to a broader public  and to emphasise its importance as a critical tool for much stronger and urgent political action by governments nationally and internationally to halt runaway climate change.

Therefore, in line with the recent science, including the recent IPCC WG I report, and building on earlier IPCC Special Reports on limiting warming to 1.5°C, Land and Climate Change, and Oceans and the Cryosphere, CAN sets out the following  expectations:

  • Evident from the scale and frequency of recent climate impacts and the need to address loss and damage, we call for an emphasis for a credible and functional Warsaw International Loss and Damage Mechanism to address the “limits to adaptation” as described by the IPCC in recent reports and also embedded in the underlying chapters of the IPCC WGII report. CAN supports the IPCC to highlight the interlinkages between climate change impacts, the need for enhanced community resilience, including through restoring and conserving natural systems, as well as the need to address the growing inequality between and within communities and within nations affected by continued global warming.
  • CAN supports policy-relevant conclusions that highlight the growing danger of irreversible changes to lands, food systems, wetlands, cultures, to terrestrial and glacial ice formations and warm water corals, to urban and coastal habitats and communities, particularly in Small Island States and Least Developed countries. We welcome links to the IPCC WG I report IPCC published last August.
  • In this context, we emphasise that this report must spur substantially enhanced finance for adaptation and measures to support resilience-building and disaster risk management in frontline communities in a gender-responsive, human rights consistent and people-centred way, including through the restoration and conservation of nature, in poor countries, facing catastrophic impacts from exponential melting of terrestrial ice sheets, sea level rise, water scarcity, heat waves and the continuing soil erosion and loss of fertile soil. Again, links to the results of WG I should be included. 
  • Clear evidence by the IPCC on the scale of unavoidable climate impacts owing to locked-in warming will help policymakers and the international community accept and mobilise to deliver urgent and substantial funding for addressing loss and damage and scale up adaptation given the likely overshoot of the 1.5°C threshold in the 2030s/2040s despite deep decarbonisation, as assessed by the IPCC WG I scenarios last year.
  • The links between food security and erratic weather, crosscutting with issues of fragile land tenure by subsistence farmers and concepts of agroecology versus large scale industrial agriculture should be a focus of the IPCC SPM. This is aggravated by scandalous food loss and food waste both in the pre- and post harvest supply chains as well as persistent gender discrimination with respect to access to resources, including land and finance, and ignoring traditional and Indigenous knowledge and practices.
  • The IPCC needs to emphasise the findings from its Special Report on Land and Climate Change (2019) that industrialised, intensive and meat-based agriculture is unsustainable and would force conversion of primary forests and other ecosystems towards agricultural use. This would manifest in large amounts of CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions over the entire supply chain while imposing overwhelming pressure on limited land and water resources that could benefit from more sustainable agroecology, agroforestry, and paludiculture purposes.   
  • In this anthropocene, we are already witnessing unprecedented loss of biodiversity. The impacts on biodiversity and nature, crosscutting with non-climate and human impacts destroying ecological habitats should be high on the IPCC’s list of priorities. The IPCC should endorse that the danger of irreversible changes from global warming is already being experienced in species loss and extinction resulting from human activities and the risks this poses towards ecosystem collapses, including what it means for people..
  • There is strong scientific evidence emerging that climate impacts on more biodiverse, less land-intensive and sustainably managed ecosystems for food, forestry etc. will be lower compared to less resilient and high-input/output industrial farming or forestry systems. CAN encourages the IPCC to highlight these findings.    
  • Policymakers need clear figures by the IPCC to describe the overall economic impacts of climate change – what are the costs, investments and benefits to act on adaptation and resilience building in comparison to lukewarm or non-action in the various mitigation scenarios. What are the unavoidable and avoidable financial damages and impacts on society and culture in the next decades based on the various mitigation scenarios.
  • The Covid pandemic has exposed the brutal vaccine apartheid with the disparity in vaccine access between richer and poorest nations. The overlapping effects of the pandemic with continued and escalating climate change impacts have pushed already vulnerable populations further into poverty and economic precarity. The IPCC report must reflect this new reality and the growing health threats  in a warming world particularly on poor, under-resourced workers and communities. Appropriate health and reproductive care and sufficient medical service are crucial components for effective adaptation and resilience building.
  • Last but not least, CAN calls on the IPCC to reaffirm its earlier statements that only transformative actions and pathways will help manage and curtail growing climate impacts by timely measures to build adaptive capacities and resilience in current or potentially impacted frontline communities. These approaches will be much more effective if regional and national policies are enhanced by social security measures based on social justice principles, human rights and environmental integrity. 

With the best wishes,

Dr Stephan Singer  &  Mr Harjeet Singh

CAN International

Download file: http://CAN-Letter-to-the-IPCC-Focal-Points-09-Feb-2022.pdf

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