Low Regrets. That's a seemingly benign phrase that appears in a new almost 600 page study on climate change impacts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Low regrets" is used to describe the urgent policy choices that governments should be making now to avoid the worst possible consequences for people and ecosystems from our changing climate.
Such policies are needed now because we've gone so far, so fast--we are at 397 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere when scientists say we use return to a safe level of 350ppm--and our pollution mitigation and climate adaptation strategies are lacking in rigor, seriousness, and imagination. This was the message from Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's department of global ecology and a lead author of the report.
"That's a time frame where most of the climate change that will occur is already baked into the system and where even aggressive climate policies in the short term are not going to have their full effects."
Here are a few key findings from the report:
- Financial loses in developing countries from climate change disasters were substantially higher than in developed countries, with middle-income countries suffering losses of 1 percent of GDP between 2001 and 2006, compared with 0.1 percent for high-income countries.
- Natural disasters hit developing countries the hardest--95 percent of all linked deaths between 1970 and 2008 are in these countries.
- Now is the time to be planning for already in the pipeline consequence soy climate change. The IPCC recommends that policy makers look at strategies like early warning systems, preserving ecosystems such as forests and mangroves, and overhauling failing health systems.
At 350.org we take these warnings seriously, and we are doing what we can to concentrate the world's attention on connecting the dots between weather disasters and climate change. Join us on May 5 as we launch a "Day of Climate Impacts." We're expecting over 1,000 events around the globe and it's a day you won't want to miss. Find out more at climatedots.org.