This short video explainer outlines how, within the current decade, climate hazards are expected to have increasingly serious disruptive impacts.
This research paper draws on the findings of a structured, multi-round expert elicitation exercise, involving 200 climate scientists and specialists in other relevant disciplines, to assess which near-term climate hazards and impacts should most concern decision-makers in the coming decade.
Findings and conclusions
- Between now and 2030, climate hazards will have increasingly significant, disruptive impacts.
- The 10 direct hazard-impact pathways of greatest near-term concern all relate to Africa or Asia.
- Many socio-economic vulnerabilities to climate hazards have been identified in these regions. If left unaddressed, such vulnerabilities have the potential to initiate complex chains of impacts that are likely to have a destabilizing effect on national and international security in the near term.
- Decisive action is urgently needed to address socio-economic vulnerabilities to climate hazards in these regions. Such action can help prevent devastating local and regional impacts, and forestall cascading and compounding global climate impacts within the next decade.
- The near-term impacts of greatest concern are:
- Cascading impacts on food security, migration and global supply chains, originating in the most vulnerable countries and affecting regional country groups and the wider global community.
- Food security impacts in South and Southeast Asia, and Australasia.
- Global food security impacts arising from multiple climate hazards, including extreme heat, drought, storm damage, flooding and multiple breadbasket failure.
- Migration and displacement impacts in East Africa, South, Southeast and East Asia, the Caribbean and Central America.
- Cyclones and typhoons in Southeast and South Asia causing significant infrastructure loss and damage, with global cascading impacts on international supply chains.
- Drought and crop failure driving displacement and migration of people from East Africa and the Sahel into Southern Europe.
- Drought directly creating conditions for conflict in Africa, with particular vulnerability in East Africa.
- Changing rainfall patterns and drought impacting livelihoods and income in Africa.
- Adaptation measures are urgently needed. In the near term, global adaptation efforts must focus on addressing socio-economic vulnerabilities in the most threatened regions. Already, 33 concrete food security measures have been identified by 21 African countries. These provide a starting point for action.
- Urgent adaptation action in vulnerable countries and regions should be financed and supported by richer countries. Such action is in the interests of all nations, to prevent cascading food insecurity, migration and conflict across the world. That ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’, repeated so often during the COVID-19 pandemic, is just as critical in relation to climate hazards.
- Adaptation measures should, at a minimum, not increase the risk of conflict, and should where possible enhance peacebuilding, given that many socio-economic vulnerabilities are interlinked with domestic and regional tensions. Efforts to combine adaptation and peacebuilding require improved governance, security and economic growth, and – crucially – the buy-in of affected communities.
- A comprehensive and up-to-date climate risk register is needed, incorporating near-term climate impacts (including cascading impacts), socio-economic vulnerabilities and associated adaptations. This should complement the outputs of climate impact models to enable more targeted action from the private sector and governments. Many experts recommend that a UN body such as the Security Council should hold this risk register.
- Mitigation of climate change is fundamental. In the absence of more ambitious NDCs and sector initiatives leading to drastic emissions reductions in the very near term, by 2030 the world may well be locked into impacts so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to.
- Repeating this exercise, with modifications and improvements, would be valuable while more comprehensive systems for tracking emerging and near-term climate risks are established.