The stakes in the fight against global warming are higher than ever, the UN’s climate science chief has said as nearly 200 nations met to finalise a report on climate impacts. “The need for the Working Group 2 report has never been greater because the stakes have never been higher,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chair Hoesung Lee said in a live videocast.

Species extinction, ecosystem collapse, mosquito-borne disease, deadly heat, water shortages and reduced crop yields are already measurably worse due to rising temperatures. Just in the last year, the world has seen a cascade of unprecedented floods, heatwaves and wildfires across four continents.

All these impacts will accelerate in the coming decades even if the carbon pollution driving climate change is rapidly brought to heel, the IPCC report is likely to warn.

A crucial, 40-page Summary for Policymakers – distilling underlying chapters totalling thousands of pages, and reviewed line-by-line – is to be made public on 28 February. The report will also underscore the urgent need for “adaptation” – climate-speak which means preparing for devastating consequences that can no longer be avoided, according to an early draft seen by AFP in 2021.

In some cases this means that adapting to intolerably hot days, flash flooding and storm surges has become a matter of life and death.

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