UN Foundation’s Wirth on IPCC extreme weather report

Statement By Timothy E. Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation

November 18, 2011


Serena Jiwani

On the summary released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on extreme weather and risk management:

“The escalation and severity of climate change-driven extreme weather events is unpredictable, but not unforeseeable.  As the Earth heats up like a kettle on the stove, more water evaporates and falls as rain and snow – causing droughts in some places and floods elsewhere.  These weather events have immediate and devastating local impacts, and increasingly cause harm at regional and international scales.  Prolonged droughts and torrential rains lead to resource scarcity, confrontation, displacement, and societal instability.  Natural resources are finite in nature, and the global community must act in a coordinated fashion to protect them and adapt to current and future challenges.

“Making the changes that are needed to underlying systems of energy production, economic growth, and risk management will not be easy, but it will be all the more difficult – and expensive – with continued delay.  Despite difficult financial conditions worldwide, governments and international financial and lending institutions must prepare to manage the unavoidable, and act now to avoid the unmanageable.

“A new round of climate treaty talks begin in South Africa in two weeks, and the findings and scenarios spelled out in this report are a call to action.  A grand bargain is not a likely outcome of Durban, but progress is imperative to increase the pace of emissions reductions and build climate resiliency.  Developed nations have an obligation to make good on past pledges and bring sorely needed good will into a frayed process.”