U.N. Climate Panel: Governments, Businesses Need to Take Action Now against Growing Risks

By:  Steven Mufson

The world’s leading environmental scientists told policymakers and business leaders Sunday that they must invest more to cope with climate change’s immediate effects and hedge against its most dire potential, even as they work to slow the emissions fueling global warming.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that climate change is already hurting the poor, wreaking havoc on the infrastructure of coastal cities, lowering crop yields, endangering various plant and animal species, and forcing many marine organisms to flee hundreds of miles to cooler waters.

But the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group said that climate change’s effects will grow more severe and that spending and planning are needed to guard against future costs, much as people insure themselves against possible accidents or health problems.

The report said that damage from climate change and the costs of adapting to it could cause the loss of several percentage points of gross domestic product in low-lying developing countries and island states. It added that climate change could “indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence” by “amplifying” poverty and economic shocks.

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