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Figure 2.22: Trends in numbers of loss-relevant natural events


800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0


Year 2


Geophysical events (Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic activity)


Hydrological events (Flood, mass movement)


Source: Munich Re (2017)


One indication of the potential impacts is the doubling of the frequency of climate-related loss events (Figure 2.22) since 1980 (Hoeppe 2016). These events are already estimated to have resulted in the loss of 400,000 lives and the imposition of a cost of US$1.2 trillion annually on the global economy, wiping 1.6 per cent from global GDP.


These risks are greatest – currently as well as in the future – for people who are dependent on natural-resource sectors. Such people include coastal communities, people in agricultural and forest communities, and those experiencing multiple forms of inequality, marginalization and poverty, thereby amplifying existing risks and create new ones for natural and human systems. The scale of potential damage from climate change poses a major systemic risk to our future well-being and the ecosystems on which we depend, in particular for societies in less-developed, less-resilient countries (OECD 2017).


2.7.4 Implications


The Paris Agreement recognizes that limiting warming by the end of the century could help prevent more problems. It explicitly states the need for achieving a balance of emissions and removals in the second half of the century. The 2°C target is important to achieve, to reduce the likelihood of more intense storms, longer droughts, rising sea levels and other natural disasters that are being increasingly reported (Munich Re 2016). To keep a good chance of staying below 2°C, and at manageable costs, emissions should drop by 40-70 per cent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero by 2100 (IPCC 2014; Kroeze and Pulles 2015). The current trajectory of global annual and cumulative emissions of GHGs is inconsistent with the widely discussed goals of limiting global warming to 1.5-2.0°C above pre-industrial levels. Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or


even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable. Delayed action or weak near-term policies increase the mitigation challenges in the long-term. There are risks associated with exceeding 1.5°C global warming by the end of the century (increases in the severity of projected impacts and in the adaptation needs), making the achievement of many SDGs much more difficult. The overall costs and risks of climate change include a prediction that some regions could see growth decline by as much as 6 per cent of GDP by 2050, according to a recent report from the World Bank Group (2016) on climate change, water and the economy. If the worst of the climate change-related risks are to be avoided, the pace and scale of the required economic transformation is unprecedented (OECD 2017).


2.8 Unravelling drivers and their interactions


The same driver of environmental change can exert both positive and negative forces on the environment, as described in the previous sections. Moreover, the five drivers highlighted in this chapter are mutually interdependent, and this interdependence can itself also be positive or negative. The cumulative effect the drivers can have on the environment has been extensively discussed in the literature (Wu et al. 2017).


Table 2.1 presents the interactions between the drivers covered in this chapter. These are first-order interactions (excluding interactions with other variables) at a global scale and under current conditions.


The aggregate effects of these interactions on climate change are negative. This is clear from the current trajectory of GHG emissions, which not only continue to increase, but at a rate that has accelerated in the last 15 years, compared with the 1980-2000 trajectory (Section 2.7). Thus, there is little


Meteorological events (Tropical cyclone, extratropical storm, convective storm, local storm)


Climatological events (Extreme temperature, drought, forest fire)


48


Setting the Stage


1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017


Number of events


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