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„The risk is clear and present“: IPCC report on climate impacts

04/03/2014 – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this Monday released its milestone report on climate change impacts on societies and nature and on adaptation. From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Wolfgang Cramer was one of just eleven German scientists to participate in the final approval sessions with government representatives from all over the world in Yokohama, Japan. In Berlin, he was one of the speakers at the first presentation of the report at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Another speaker was Katja Frieler, also from PIK, who led the first comprehensive intersectoral impacts model Intercomparison (ISI-MIP). Many important findings from this project have in fact been incorporated into the new IPCC report.
„The risk is clear and present“: IPCC report on climate impacts

The cover of the IPCC report on climate change impacts and adaptation shows planting mangroves in Tuvalu. Picture: IPCC

The assessment is the result of a most rigorous examination of the current state of science – it is hence rather conservative. “In many cases where we could not detect and attribute climate change impacts this is not because they don’t exist – but because especially in developing countries which are amongst the most affected, the scientificly robust data we’d need is simply not available or not good enough,” said Cramer in Berlin. Before this, in a phone conference with journalists, together with Chris Fields of Stanford University who led the report on climate change impacts and adaptation, Cramer shared his insights from the talks with government representatives: “It sounds like sugarcoating, but it’s true: the atmosphere was constructive.”

Bevor travelling to Japan, Cramer participated in an information event about the upcoming climate impacts report in the federal parliament of Germany, organized by Deutsches Klima-Konsortium. His accreditation within the IPCC is through PIK, where he’s been a longstanding co-chair of the research domain Earth System Analysis. In the meantime, however, he became research director at the French Mediterranean Institute of marine and terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE).

Weather extremes and world food security

"Extremes like heat waves or floods will increase if greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil are not abated,” says Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe in a statement on the new IPCC report. He’s a meteorologist and co-chair of PIK's research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. “We are changing the energy balance of our planet and thereby disturbing wind flows and precipitation patterns. This results in weather extremes – which have doubled in the last three decades, and the trend is still going up. These extremes will have considerable impacts for Europe and the USA, but the world’s poorest countries will be affected even more, as the report impressively underscores."

Hermann Lotze-Campen, an agricultural economist and also a co-chair of the research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities, comments: "If no brake is put on climate change, it will have impacts on what will go on our plates - and what we've got to pay for it. Under global warming and without adaptation, yields will decrease more often than increase. This could drive up prices on the world agricultural market. Now this won't happen everywhere and all the time, and we're continuing to do research on these issues. But the risk is clear and present." Many media, from Deutschlandfunk to Radio Eins, took up their statements.


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