The following statements have been issued by Dr. Daniel Zarin, WCS Executive Director of Forests and Climate Change, and Dr. Hedley Grantham, WCS Director of Conservation Planning, about the newest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which synthesizes the latest science on  the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, and challenges and options for adaptation.

Daniel Zarin, WCS Executive Director of Forests and Climate Change, said:

“If we hope to keep global warming within 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the global economy and keep intact nature’s carbon storage and sinks – primarily forests and peatlands. While those tasks are difficult, we know they are possible, and cost-effective when compared to the enormous economic and human costs of inaction.

“The impacts of climate change are already felt by people and nature across the globe, with the worst effects on both human populations and ecosystems that are already suffering from other pressures. Climate change amplifies human and ecosystem vulnerability. The IPCC AR6/WG2 report clarifies that the danger of climate change is growing and our window to prevent irreversible high-cost impacts is shrinking. Despite progress on pledges and political commitments, the real evidence – our impact on the chemistry of the atmosphere — is clear that we are not on track to succeed.

If we don’t succeed in constraining climate change, we will also lose most of the natural world as we know it. Even with the climate changes we’re already experiencing, we must use the best available science to help threatened ecosystems adapt to changing conditions.”   

Hedley Grantham, WCS Director of Conservation Planning, said:

“The IPCC AR6 WG1 report documented how climate has already ‘unequivocally’ changed and is currently having an impact on our land and seas, which is only going to get worse in the future. The IPCC WG2 report highlights the need for people and biodiversity to adapt to these risks and emphasizes the importance of bringing conservation efforts to scale. The most successful strategies will incorporate elements of both mitigation and adaptation. By considering the climate impacts our world is currently experiencing, we can ensure our actions will be effective based on future, not historical, conditions. Keeping ecosystems healthy and intact, and restoring those which are degraded must be a key focus.

“We must strategize at both global and local levels. WCS’s work in nearly 60 countries has given us an on-the-ground perspective of climate impacts faced by local communities. Climate change, while a serious threat itself, exacerbates problems already faced by these communities. For example, extreme drought and flooding leading to even greater food insecurity. Our adaptation work draws on diverse forms of knowledge, including Western science, Indigenous knowledge and science, and expert opinion to inform our actions.”


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WCS’s Climate Adaptation Fund supports non-profits implementing climate adaptation work in the US, including those pursuing joint mitigation and adaptation strategies.