We see the effects of climate change in the news all the time – from raging wildfires and heatwaves to devastating floods that leave communities struggling to cope. But even in the face of these challenges, there’s a glimmer of hope.
DISTENDER aims to tackle climate-change risks through mitigation and adaptation strategies. It has showcased the project’s first outcomes during the Sustainable Places Conference to the representatives of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which marks a significant milestone in knowledge sharing and aligning the project’s outcomes and the activities of the IPCC.
Experts from around the world gathered at the Sustainable Places Conference, to discuss how climate change goals and how they can be met considering buildings, transportation, and energy infrastructure at different levels.
Jan-Gunnar Winther, from the IPCC working group 1 on Physical Science Basis shared the alarming reality that global warming has already taken hold. Human actions have caused warming since the late 70s, leading to changes in weather patterns worldwide and to an increase of climate effects in frequency, numbers and intensity. The rise in CO2 levels also affects our oceans, making them more acidic and posing more environmental challenges.
Piero Lionello, representative of the IPCC working group 2 on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, shifted the focus to adaptation. He discussed how ecosystems and human systems are affected by events influenced by climate change. Europe is especially vulnerable, facing issues like heat stress, agricultural losses due to heat and drought. Without urgent adaptation action the Mediterranean region will face risks of loss of terrestrial ecosystems, reduction of Alpine glaciers and increasing heatwave impacts.
Maria Figueroa, from the IPCC working group 3 on Climate Change Mitigation, stressed the need to meet the 1.5-degree target and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 so that future generations can enjoy the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. To reach this goal, Figueroa outlined various opportunities for systems change, by focusing on the use of sustainable technologies (such as, photovoltaics, onshore wind and e-vehicles), better urban planning practices and energy efficiency measures (such as, buildings retrofitting, sustainable transportation means and decarbonisation of industries). Finally, Figueroa highlighted the importance of policy, regulatory and economic instruments to drive positive change.
Achieving the 1.5-degree target and net-zero emissions by 2050 is essential, requiring sustainable technologies, urban planning, energy efficiency, and policy changes. DISTENDER is playing a significant role in advancing these objectives. By integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation actions with participatory approaches, DISTENDER is fostering common ground strategies that bring together scientists, businesses, governments, policymakers, and citizens.
The uniqueness of DISTENDER was outlined by the project coordinator, Roberto San José who emphasized the holistic approach and methodologies developed that will be tested at the core case studies, delivering to policy makers actionable strategies for tackling climate change impacts through integrated mitigation and adaptation strategies with multidisciplinary approach.
The work of the IPCC calls on governments, businesses, and individuals to work together for a more livable planet, by highlighting that science can suggest solutions and actions, but the responsibility in the decision relies on the policy makers.