The IPCC warns that climate change “is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet”


The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet”. The study published on 28 February also warns of the “consequences of inaction” and urges that measures must be taken.

Among the conclusions of the study, in which experts from 195 countries have participated, it highlights that “the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5 °C. Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements”.

Faced with this situation, the report stresses that “accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions”. In this respect, the report points out that “increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals” and also explains that “these weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage”. The consequences, as explained by the study, affect millions of people who are exposed to a situation of acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on small islands and in the Arctic.

Protecting and strengthening nature

In addition, the IPCC’s report offers new ideas concerning the possibilities offered by nature to reduce climate risks and improve people’s lives. Hans-Otto Pörtner, IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair, explains that “healthy ecosystems are more resilient to climate change and provide life-critical services such as food and clean water”, and insists that “by restoring degraded ecosystems and effectively and equitably conserving 30 to 50 per cent of Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean habitats, society can benefit from nature’s capacity to absorb and store carbon, and we can accelerate progress towards sustainable development, but adequate finance and political support are essential”.

Therefore. they consider it essential that “governments, the private sector, civil society, work together to prioritise risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment”, as stated by Debra Roberts, IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair.

The importance of cities: critical points and part of the solution

More than half of the world’s population live in cities and that is why, according to the report, they become critical points due to their impact on climate change. “People’s health, lives and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea level rise”, it explains.

But on the other hand, experts claim that “cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society”.

Urban Klima 2050, the Basque Country’s biggest climate action project

LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050, the Basque Country’s biggest climate action project, has already started to transform the Basque territory through the coordination of 40 climate change mitigation and adaptation actions that will be developed during the 2019-2025 period, and which can be replicated in other areas. The collaboration and involvement of all the partner institutions is key for achieving the goal of empowering the local administration and fostering citizen participation. Urban Klima 2050 is led by the Ihobe public company, from the Basque Country's Ministry for Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, which works with some twenty entities at three intervention levels: river basins, urban environments and coastal areas. Funded with a 19.8 million euro budget, it will facilitate the effective deployment of the Basque Country's Climate Change Strategy, KLIMA 2050, at an urban scale. Among many other actions, pilot projects will be developed within the framework of the project for the implementation of natural solutions at municipal level.