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IPCC report: the climate crisis is accelerating

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability humans face with rising temperatures.

Noting that nearly half the world's population is already vulnerable to increasingly dangerous climate impacts, the report calls for drastic action on a huge scale, including that a third to a half of the planet needs to be conserved and protected to ensure future food and freshwater supplies and that coastal cities need plans to keep people safe from storms and rising seas.

"This IPCC report shows what people around the world already know — that all countries need to take bold climate mitigation and adaptation action, because the costs of doing too little will be far too high," Steven Guilbeault, Canada's minister of environment and climate change, said in a statement. "Canada is ready to continue leading this work. We only have to look at extreme weather events, such as the floods in British Columbia and the wildfires in Alberta in 2021, to see why addressing climate change matters to Canadians."

Catastrophic wildfires could increase 50% by 2100

"It's the poor and most marginalized who are most vulnerable," said Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at The New School in New York and one of the report's 270 authors. That includes people living in developing countries in Africa, South Asia and small island nations, as well as marginalized communities in wealthy nations such as the United States. Without inclusive economic development in Africa, for example, climate change is expected to push 40 million more people into extreme poverty by 2030.

Growing costs and damage

Among all the numbers, the report's message is clear: climate change is already taking its toll on humanity, at a grave cost. Some of that's hard put a dollar figure on, but the concrete costs are already mounting.

It's no big surprise following the tragic fires that ravaged B.C. last summer that the new report says wildfires are the top climate change risk facing Canada, causing a heavy financial strain. The 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., caused $3 billion in insured damages alone. And in 2017, fire suppression cost the province $500 million.

The report further states that fires, combined with pests and other factors, could result in the loss of $459 billion in forestry by 2080, with the biggest losses in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

The storms are costing Canadians due to infrastructure damage, such as floods in cities like Calgary and Toronto. According to the IPCC, flooding accounts for 40 per cent of weather-related disasters since 1970, the costliest being the 2013 Calgary flood which cost $1.8 billion in insurance losses and an additional $6 billion in uninsured costs. The report did not include the fires and floods from 2021.


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