Forum IPCC Climate Change 2014 - Meeting report

Fifth Assessment Reports AR5 on Impact, Adaptation, Vulnerability and Mitigation (WGII and WGIII)

On 12 May 2014 Swiss researchers who have been engaged in the elaboration of the IPCC report presented an overview and key messages of the Summary of Policymakers and of the chapters they were involved. About 220 participants attended the forum organized by ProClim, OFEV and the University of Fribourg. It was a follow-up of the event in Bern where the first IPCC volume 'The Physical Science Basis' had been presented.

Teaser: Forum IPCC Climate Change 2014 - Meeting report

After the welcome of Prof. Guido Vergauwen, Rector of the University of Fribourg, an insight into the report of Working Group II about Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was chaired by Dr. G.K. Plattner from the University of Bern.

Prof. Andreas Fischlin from ETH Zurich summarized the report and pointed out the following key messages in his introduction (--> Presentation):

  • The contribution by WGII to the AR5 mostly confirms previous findings from AR4.
  • Risks result from a combination of hazard, exposure and vulnerability.
  • Generally: The warmer it gets the more negative impacts dominate and the higher the risks become.
  • Risks differ among social groups, regions, and sectors.
  • Adaptation can reduce risks, but may encounter limitations.
  • Depending on the mitigation pathway, limits to adaptation may vary.

Prof. Philippe Thalmann from the EPF Lausanne talked about the costs of climate change and their insurance. For most economic sectors, climate change is not a central concern for the next few decades. Future trends in the insurance system show an increase of losses from flooding, clylones, winter storms and hailstorms. (--> Presentation, PDF 870 KB)

Does climate change hit the poor hardest? Prof. Etienne Piguet from the University of Neuchâtel showed that climate change is never the only factor that affects poverty dynamics. It is a threat multiplier at the intersections of policies, power structures, gender, age, class, ethnicity and so on. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.6 MB)

Prof. Anthony Patt from ETH Zurich discussed the challenges of the work within chapter 14 about 'Adaption Needs and Options'. The separation of this issue from the chapters 'Adaptation Planning and Implementation' as well as 'Adaptation Opportunities, Constraints and Limits' required supplementary efforts from authors and reviewers. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.3 MB)

Prof. Christian Huggel from the University of Zurich focused on observed impacts, attribution to climate change and associated key risks. Climate impacts are increasingly observed in natural and human systems and their quantification in relation to emissions is still difficult. Adaptation can substantially reduce the risks, but for some systems it is virtually impossible to adapt and losses are the inevitable consequence. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.5 MB)

Prof. Martin Beniston from the University of Geneva presented the multiple impacts of climate change in Europe. Extreme events will increase the likelihood of systemic failures affecting multiple sectors. Human health is likely to be affected by climate change. (--> Presentation, PDF 2.6 MB)

Prof. Christian Hauck from the University of Fribourg chaired the second session about the report of Working Group III dealing with the aspects of Mitigation.

Prof. Anthony Patt from ETH Zurich talked about framing the climate mitigation problem. Economic growth is driving a continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Decoupling growth from emissions is technically and economically feasible. There is no single policy change that is necessary or sufficient, but rather many are required. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.1 MB)

Emission drivers, trends and transformation pathways were presented by Dr. Joeri Rogelj from ETH Zurich. A delay significantly increases the mitigation challenge with consequences like higher costs, higher technological dependency and a possible missing of the 2 °C goal. (--> Presentation, PDF 3.2 MB)

Dr. Carmenza Robledo from HELVETAS and ETH Zurich showed that around 25% of the yearly GHG emissions come from the AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use) sector (about 9–12 GtCO2e/yr), where good governance is central for reducing most mitigation barriers. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.2 MB)

In his talk, Prof. Axel Michaelowa from the University of Zurich, focused on the performance of international and national climate policies to date. On the national level co-benefits like energy security or a decrease of local pollution increase the attractiveness of emission reductions. Sectoral policies are easier to implement than economy-wide ones. Some direct regulation policies, especially efficiency standards for buildings and household appliances, are cost-effective. (--> Presentation, PDF 1.4 MB)

The role of preferential trade agreements for climate change mitigation and adaptation was the issue presented by Prof. Thomas Cottier from the University of Bern.
Mirroring its limited role in the WTO, climate change mitigation and adaption has not played a significant role in preferential and regional trade agreements except the EU. (--> Presentation, PDF 200 KB)

After the closing words with great thanks to all scientists working for IPCC expressed by Dr. José Romero from the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, there was enough time for discussions and networking at the apéro riche.