The Climate Imperative

NEW DELHI – Today, international action on climate change is urgent and essential. Indeed, there can no longer be any debate about the need to act, because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), of which I am chairman, has established climate change as an unequivocal reality beyond scientific doubt.

For instance, changes are taking place in precipitation patterns, with a trend toward higher precipitation levels in the world’s upper latitudes and lower precipitation in some sub-tropical and tropical regions, as well as in the Mediterranean area. The number of extreme precipitation events is also increasing – and are increasingly widespread. Moreover, the frequency and intensity of heat waves, floods, and droughts are on the rise.

This change in the amount and pattern of rainfall has serious implications for many economic activities, as well as for countries’ preparedness to handle emergencies such as large-scale coastal flooding or heavy snowfall.

Some parts of the world are more vulnerable than others to these changes. The Arctic region, in particular, has been warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe. Coral reefs, mega-deltas (which include cities like Shanghai, Kolkata, and Dhaka), and small island states are also extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels.