A researcher from the University of East Anglia is one of an internationally respected group of scientists who have urgently called on world leaders to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change.
Almost every aspect of the planet’s environment and ecology is undergoing changes in response to climate change, some of which will be profound if not catastrophic in the future.
According to their study published in Science today, reducing the magnitude of climate change is also a good investment. Over the next few decades, acting to reduce climate change is expected to cost much less than the damage otherwise inflicted by climate change on people, infrastructure and ecosystems.
“Acting on climate change” said lead author Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland in Australia, “has a good return on investment when one considers the damages avoided by acting.”
The investment is even more compelling given the wealth of evidence that the impacts of climate change are happening faster and more extensively than projected, even just a few years ago. This makes the case for rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions even more compelling and urgent.
Prof Hoegh-Guldberg explained the mismatch: “First, we have underestimated the sensitivity of natural and human systems to climate change, and the speed at which these changes are happening. Second, we have underappreciated the synergistic nature of climate threats – with the outcomes tending to be worse than the sum of the parts. This is resulting is rapid and comprehensive climate impacts, with growing damage to people, ecosystems, and livelihoods.”
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