Plan for climate change disasters, urges UN panel

Thu, Mar 29, 2012, 01:00

GOVERNMENTS NEED to have policies to “avoid, prepare for, respond to and recover from the risks of disaster” posed by extreme weather events such as floods and heatwaves, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reports Frank McDonald.

Having the right policies “can reduce the impact of these events and increase the resilience of people exposed to extreme events”, the panel says in its latest, 592-page report, Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (see But when “tipping points” are exceeded, this would pose “severe challenges for adaptation” in many regions.

“The main message from the report is that we know enough to make good decisions about managing the risks of climate-related disasters. Sometimes we take advantage of this knowledge, but many times we do not,” said Chris Field, co-chair of an IPCC working group.

According to him, the challenge for the future was both to improve the knowledge base and empower good decisions, “even for those situations where there is lots of uncertainty”. The peer reviewed report is “firmly based” on science, says the IPCC.