IPCC report: Adaptability has limits

28 Feb 2022

The Assessment Report of the IIPCC published today shows: The consequences of climate change will be felt earlier and more strongly than assumed.

  • Immediate and determined action for climate change mitigation and adaptation is urgently needed to keep risks at a manageable level and avert irreversible damages to ecosystems and societies.
  • LMU geographer Matthias Garschagen was a lead author of the report.

Published today, the Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear: The global community will be confronted with the consequences of climate change even earlier and more strongly than previously expected. For the report, scientists from around the world evaluated thousands of studies to assess the consequences of climate change. Matthias Garschagen is Chair in Human Geography and heads the Teaching and Research Unit for Human Environment Relations at the Department of Geography at LMU. He is one of the lead authors of Chapter 16, which synthesizes and assesses key risks of climate change and adaptation capacities and limits across sectors and regions, and was also involved in coordinating the final Summary for Policymakers.

“The previous risk estimates were too optimistic,” says Garschagen. “We’re increasingly dealing with feedbacks and complexities in the system, by means of which risks mutually exacerbate each other, such as interdependent water-related and food-related risks. Such compounding risks have received increased scientific attention in the recent years.” The authors see strong impacts of climate change in all regions of the world and in all sectors, such as infrastructure, settlements, food security, agriculture, and fishing.

In addition, the report makes clear that although progress is being made with climate change adaptation, it cannot offset all risks. “Particularly in the case of warming pathways that lead us to a temperature increase of 3°C or even more by the end of the century, we see clear signs that our adaptation planning – at least in its current guise – will be nowhere near sufficient,” emphasizes Garschagen. “Even if we manage to keep warming below an increase of 2°C, limits of adaptation will be reached in many regions of the world, especially in poor countries with lower adaptive capacities.” Consequently, we must press ahead with both climate change mitigation and adaptation in a very swift and effective fashion, urges Garschagen. And in doing so, we need to act in a much more forward-looking and integrated manner than has been the case to date. “It’s still in our hands!”, says Garschagen.

Prof. Dr. Matthias Garschagen
Chair in Human Geography
Head of Human-Environment Relations
Department of Geography
ph.: +49-89-2180-4141


Susan Elsäßer
Human-Environment Relations
ph.: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 – 4141

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