With only 1 degree Celsius increase, we already see that many countries, both developing and developed, struggle with the consequences of climate change. This means that if we continue “business as usual”, we have to adapt to climate change and prevent flooding, heat stress or ecological hazards in populated areas. We must act quickly to make our living environment climate-proof.
The toughest challenges already occur in vulnerable countries. Climate-adaptive solutions should not only be technically feasible but also economically and societally acceptable in different circumstances. In this perspective, there is still a need for knowledge and experience regarding viable solutions.
Climate change can mean high costs if we don't adapt. Well-known examples are the damages caused by extreme flooding or the increased costs for healthcare due to health problems caused by heat stress. This especially applies to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. In addition, climate change can lead to changes in biodiversity or agricultural production.
There has been a lot of positive action among people who want to act on climate change, mitigation, and adaptation.
In particular, youth groups around the world have shown a level of enthusiasm leading to a variety of initiatives, actions, and manifestations to tackle the issue. Furthermore, scientists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers are striving to obtain more knowledge and solutions on the matter.
Mitigation versus adaptation
We certainly haven’t given up yet on mitigation, but the days where we could do one thing (mitigation) and neglect another (adaptation) are a thing of the past. The solution is given by the Paris Climate Agreement: we are striving for a low-emission development and stronger resilience to climate change. The goal of the Paris Agreement is that the global temperature increase does not exceed 2° C on average, and preferably this increase stays limited to 1.5° C. This would be an enormous (mitigation) success, especially considering the current trend towards a 3° C increase. But even so, the climate would still be changing, and adaptation is still necessary. In fact, it is already necessary because we have seen that the current average temperature increase on earth is 1° C.
In other words: achieving the Paris Agreement mitigation goals is crucial for future prosperity on earth, but it unfortunately no longer releases us from a duty of care for existing and future ecosystems and humanitarian systems. The CAW addresses this duty of care.