Written by by CNN Staff
Many parts of the world will struggle to maintain outdoor temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) through the middle of the century, according to a new UN report released Wednesday.
Written in coordination with 44 global organizations including the World Meteorological Organization, the report warns that extremes of heat, tropical cyclones and water scarcity “could increase significantly” and called for action to be taken by mid-century.
“We are dealing with an extremely challenging issue,” said the UN’s Head of Scientific Affairs, Marco Anigo, who spoke at a press conference in Geneva, adding that the UN is “extremely concerned.”
“We don’t have the luxury of leaving this problem for another generation,” he said.
The report is the seventh in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s series, and serves as an assessment of historical climate data, current research and projections for future trends.
“Recent observations show that most of the climate extremes recorded over the past 50 years are beyond what would be expected by the current climate of the Northern Hemisphere,” says the report.
“Risks of extreme events will increase, particularly around heatwaves, with high confidence,” reads the report. “Indeed, human influences on the climate system have added substantially to recent extreme events.”
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According to the research, one of the biggest areas of concern is water scarcity. “There is an increased potential for serious problems to arise due to water stress in several regions, notably in Central Asia, China, and the Middle East/North Africa,” reads the report.
It goes on to say that while the growing climate change impacts are distributed geographically, there is one factor that unites them. “Global warming has led to a near-term increase in extreme weather and climate events,” it reads.
Given the broad range of extreme weather and climate events that have occurred in recent years, the authors of the report argue that increasing climate sensitivity should be taken seriously, and future changes should be “adapted to,” rather than avoided.
“The changing world is not something that we are talking about ten years from now,” Anigo said. “This is something that we have to work on now.”
The report reveals that some of the biggest economic losers of climate change will likely be in Europe and North America, particularly in cities where driving factors are economic.
“The threat posed by climate change to our economy is becoming more and more tangible,” says the report, adding that economic growth will be considerably hampered by climate change.
The authors predict that “climate change will result in long-term economic losses equivalent to 0.13 percent of global GDP. This will largely be borne by Central and East Asia, the European Union, North America, and Australia and New Zealand.”
The impacts of climate change could bring about a shift away from cities over the coming years, the report notes. “Population is already rising in many Central Asian and Asian regions, but at the same time the number of projected population growth has decreased. Moving ahead, the main future drivers of future population growth will be the Middle East/North Africa, the African continent, Asia, and Latin America.”
To counter the effects of climate change, Anigo warned governments not to “retreat” from the problem and said that “the world really needs political will.”
“We are at a crucial moment in this moment where we can make changes,” he said. “And we need to make changes very quickly.”