On 28 February, in the shadows of war once again tormenting Europe, the United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the contribution of Working Group II to its Sixth Assessment report. Titled “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”, Working Group II’s report examines the impacts of climate change on nature and people around the globe, and underlines the urgency of immediate and more ambitious climate action, focusing on equity and justice.
“This report provides overwhelming evidence that measures to guarantee social inclusion, justice and equity are needed to be able to both tackle and mitigate the ongoing climate emergency, and that this must be done together with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society”, summarises Mikael Leyi, Secretary General of SOLIDAR.
The report observes that, across sectors and regions, the most vulnerable people and systems are disproportionately affected by human-induced climate change, and states that approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. It also recognises that safeguarding and strengthening nature is key to improving people's lives. These conclusions underscore SOLIDAR’s view on climate action as an instrument to reduce social injustices, generate opportunities for the most disadvantaged and improve people’s wellbeing, quality of life and access to rights, across sectors and regions of the world. Consequently, we strongly endorse the IPCC’s new attention to a socially Just Transition to climate neutrality everywhere.
Referring to the latest governmental efforts against climate change, the report also points out how several initiatives prioritize immediate and short-term climate risk reduction instead of producing long-term, transformational adaptation to climate change. It stresses that integrated, multi-sectoral solutions that address social inequities, differentiate responses based on climate risk and cut across systems increase the feasibility and effectiveness of adaptation in multiple sectors. For SOLIDAR, building a sustainable and safe future for all and with all through a socially Just Transition requires transformative systemic change, starting with reshaping our economies and moving away from our unsustainable production and consumption patterns. Moreover, according to the report, maladaptive responses to climate change exacerbate existing inequalities and create lock-ins of vulnerability, exposure and risks that are difficult and expensive to change. Maladaptation can be avoided by flexible, multi-sectoral, inclusive and long-term planning and implementation of adaptation actions with benefits to many sectors and systems.
Lastly, scientists point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanization, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events and a pandemic.
“Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritize risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts.
The report recognises that climate resilient development is enabled when governments, civil society and the private sector make inclusive development choices that prioritise risk reduction, equity and justice, and when decision-making processes, financing and actions are integrated across different governance levels, sectors and timeframes. SOLIDAR strongly agrees that a Just Transition can only be possible through civil and social dialogue, as well as innovative forms of decision making and meaningful citizenship participation. All relevant stakeholders at all levels must be engaged in setting Just Transition goals and drafting, monitoring and implementing plans, as well as in developing legislation in an impactful way. The process must be open, inclusive, and transparent and involve trade unions, civil society organisations, and public and private sectors locally and nationally.
On the IPCC
The IPCC is the UN intergovernmental body responsible for providing regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as putting forward adaptation and mitigation options, so that policymakers at all levels can use scientific information to develop climate policies. Experts prepare the IPCC Assessment Reports. They are nominated by the governments that are members of the IPCC and by Observer Organizations, and are selected by a Bureau of scientists. The Sixth Assessment Report consists of contributions from the three IPCC Working Groups: Working Group I (The Physical Science Basis), II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability), and III (Mitigation of Climate Change). The report will be completed later this year.