New IPCC climate adaptation report: U-Michigan experts available to discuss
The United Nations’ authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a major new report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. It warns that countries aren’t doing nearly enough to protect against the disasters to come as the planet continues to heat up.
University of Michigan researchers contributed to the so-called Working Group II report and are available to discuss its findings.
Kyle Whyte, professor of environmental justice at the School for Environment and Sustainability, serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. He is a contributing author of the North America chapter in the new report and also led a subsection on Indigenous peoples and climate change.
“Climate change impacts pose severe risks for communities who have experienced generations of economic, social, cultural and political discrimination,” he said. “It remains to be seen whether countries will genuinely come to the table with solutions to lowering their carbon footprints that are—at the same time—environmentally just solutions.
“For generations, many Indigenous peoples have endured land grabs and environmental degradation at the hands of businesses and governments. It is now widely documented that land dispossession and pollution contribute to making some Indigenous peoples more vulnerable to current and future climate change impacts.
“Indigenous peoples are among the most active groups in the world calling for the transformation of energy systems toward reliance on just and renewable energy. Countries that fail to respect Indigenous peoples’ self-determination, consent and aspirations for renewable energy economies will set forward policies that deepen environmental injustice and slow the transition to sustainability.”
Paige Fischer is an associate professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability who studies climate change adaptation, behavioral responses to wildfire risk and other climate-exacerbated stressors. She is a contributing author on Chapter 16 (“Key risks across sectors and regions”) of the new IPCC report.
“We found that adaptation, as documented in the scientific literature, is mostly fragmented and incremental, undertaken primarily by individuals and households, rather than comprehensive and coherent efforts by communities and institutions,” she said. “There is little evidence of behavioral change at the pace and scale needed to reduce risk from severe climate impacts.”
Fischer noted that behavioral adjustments by individuals and households to climate change are largely motivated by drought and precipitation variability.
“Urban technological and infrastructural adaptations to flood risk are prevalent in Europe, while shifts in farming practices dominate reporting from Africa and Asia,” she said.
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