Key findings of the UN climate change report

A new UN report has issued a stark warning on the impact of climate change on oceans and coastal communities.

Here are some of its key findings:

– Sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates, accelerating in recent decades as ice has been melting increasingly fast from Greenland and Antarctica.

They are set to rise at an increasing rate and will continue to do so beyond the year 2100 whatever level of emissions cuts are achieved.

Sea levels are set to rise by 30-60cm by 2100 with strong action to cut emissions and by around 60-110cm with high levels of pollution. Several metres of sea-level rise is predicted for 2300 in a high-emissions world.

– Since the mid-20th century, shrinking ice in the Arctic and the world’s high mountains have affected food and water security and quality, health, cultures of indigenous people, tourism and recreation such as skiing.

– Coastal communities are facing multiple threats linked to climate change , including more intense tropical cyclones, extreme sea levels and flooding, marine heatwaves, sea ice loss and melting permafrost – areas of previously permanently frozen ground.

The risk of erosion and flooding will increase significantly under all scenarios for future emissions, with annual coastal flood damages projected to increase 100 to 1,000 times by 2100.

Fish stocks are predicted to fall (Steve Parsons/PA)

– This century the ocean is set to shift to “unprecedented” conditions, with higher temperatures and more acidic waters as carbon dioxide dissolves into the seas, while extreme El Nino and La Nina events, which affect global temperatures and weather, will become more frequent.

– Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity.

– Wildfires are set to increase across the tundra and cold northern forests, as well as some mountain regions.

– Marine wildlife and fish stocks are set to decline, while marine heatwaves and more acidic oceans will harm corals.

– Nearly half of the world’s coastal wetlands, which protect from erosion and flooding and are important carbon stores, have been lost over the last 100 years, as a result of human activity, sea level rises, warming and extreme events.

– Fragile habitats such as seagrass meadows and kelp forests are at high risk if global warming exceeds 2C above pre-industrial temperatures, while warm water corals are already at high risk and face “a very high risk” even if global warming is limited to 1.5C.

– Some island nations are likely to become uninhabitable due to climate change.

– The resources provided by oceans and frozen areas can be supported by protecting and restoring them and reducing pollution and other pressures.

– Urgent and ambitious emissions reductions alongside coordinated, sustained and increasingly ambitious action to help people adapt to the changes that are taking place.

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