Breaking down the International Panel on Climate Change AR6 WGII - why should Malaysians care?

Prepared by

Zayana Zaikariah

1 April 2022

"This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,"

"It emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option." - Hoesung Lee

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What is IPCC and what reports do they publish?

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assesses climate change based on scientific research. Recently, IPCC released a report published on the 28th January as part of a three-series of the sixth assessment reports. There were three Malaysians involved as part of the 270 drafting authors contributing to the report, namely Rashwan Ara Begum, Joy Pereira and Zelina Zaiton Ibrahim.

Summary of IPCC Sixth Assessment Report - Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability

This part of the working group assesses the effects of climate change through the lens of ecosystems and biodiversity, and of humans and their diverse societies, cultures and settlements. It also includes the adaptation and vulnerabilities of climate change.

Loss & Damage
  • Prevention methods on the destruction of communities, biodiversity and infrastructures -  risks arises when adaptation measures are exhausted

  • Adaptations may reduce vulnerability but would still impose impacts on vulnerable communities

  • Exceeding 1.5 degrees celsius will cause irreversible impact and the ecosystems may be pressure to adapt

  • Global warming would cause unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards present multiple risks to ecosystems and humans.

Inequality & Injustice
  • Poverty, weak governance, and inadequate access to essential services such as healthcare not only increase vulnerability to dangers, but also hinder communities' capacity to adapt to climatic changes

  • Those in rural areas, particularly the Indigenous communities and those whose livelihoods rely on industries directly susceptible to climate hazards, such as agriculture, fishing, and tourism, are also facing increased climate dangers. As the effects of climate change worsen, some households may be forced to relocate to cities

  • Ecological resilience is being weakened by land-use change, habitat fragmentation, pollution, and species exploitation. And, as a result, ecological degradation exacerbates communities' vulnerability.

Adaptation & Mitigation Plans
  • Based on the report, many countries and their initiatives are still generally gradual, reactive, and small-scale, with the majority focused solely on present impacts or near-term concerns

  • The current analysis explores new ground by examining the feasibility, efficacy, and potential for co-benefits such as enhanced health outcomes or poverty reduction of various climate adaptation approaches

  • There are 127 recognised significant threats and their forecasts with the warming, but the expected adverse effects and related losses and damages increase with each increment of global warming.

  • Three evaluated climate change adaptation strategies in the report includes:

    1. Social programs that improve equity and justice​

    2. Ecosystem based adaptation

    3. New technologies and infrastructure

What should Malaysians expect?
  1. Mangroves have ecological importance to mitigating climate change impacts and provide ecosystem services. The report warns Malaysia is a hotspot that would lose a high percentage of the habitat.

  2. Fisheries and aquaculture are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Fishery analysis has indicated that there will be continued decrease in fishery accumulation impacting the seafood sector in South East Asian countries including Malaysia.

  3. Air-pollution health effects caused by rising temperatures may lead to an increased all-cause mortality. Dry conditions may lead to forest fires and trans-boundary haze which would affect children in Malaysia by 41%.

  4. Malaysia has a large segment of its population living in low-elevation coastal zones, with communities exposed to flooding in surge events. Those at risk would be displaced, driving many out of their homes.

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IPCC Recommendations
  1. Losses and damages spread like wildfire and cause communities to be displaced and nature to be destroyed, despite adaptation efforts. It is evident that the warnings are clearer and effects are more impactful than previous IPCC assessments.

  2. Cutting down emissions and mitigation efforts must be conducted immediately as expected loss and damages would increase over time.

  3. If net-zero is not achieved by 2050, economic losses will amount to 10% due to climate change.

  4. Stable political support and financial assistance are crucial to achieve a steady progression on fulfilling adaptation plans with minimal risk.

  5. Mapping climate resilient developmental solutions would ensure that equality. This can be performed at many levels., from civil society action to governmental initiatives.