IPCC report — climate change impacts are a fact of life

News Published 30 Apr 2008 Last modified 17 Jul 2017
2 min read
Europe must take the lead in adapting to the impacts of climate change according to Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA. Speaking after the launch of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which outlines the likely impacts of climate change, Professor McGlade stressed that effective action would need to be coordinated at the highest level. She also called on Europe to set an example. 'Europe sees itself as a leader in terms of setting targets and establishing policies for the mitigation of climate change. We also now need to lead on adaptation if we are to make a successful transition to the changing environment,' she said.

The trans-boundary nature of climate change means that successful adaptation strategies will take time and will require coordination at local, national, regional, and international levels.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade

The IPCC report, 'Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability', is the second of three major reports planned by the UN panel of international scientists. The report says climate change is already affecting the global environment and that drought, flooding and changes to seasonal patterns will increase as global temperatures increase. However, the extent of the impacts will be closely linked to the increase in temperature.

The report underlines the fact that many of the most vulnerable regions are in developing countries in Africa, Asia as well as island communities around the globe. However, the entire global community will be affected. As a result, effective adaptation measures must be coordinated, according to Professor McGlade.

'The trans-boundary nature of climate change means that successful adaptation strategies will take time and will require coordination at local, national, regional, and international levels,' she said.

Professor McGlade stressed, however, that the focus must still remain on controlling and reducing increases to the global climate as a first priority.

'We can delay and reduce some of the effects of climate change by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases — the drivers of global temperature increases. However, real cuts must start now as there will be a lag time before reductions have a positive effect. Failure to do so could lead to major adverse, possibly irreversible impacts that are beyond the capacity of many regions to adapt to,' she said.

The IPCC report presents observed and projected changes that include:

  • Increasing global ice melt leading to enlargement and increased numbers of glacial lakes, with increased risk of outburst floods
  • Increasing ground instability due to thawing in high-Alpine mountain and other permafrost regions
  • Growing risk of ice and rock avalanches in mountain regions
  • Enhanced run-off and earlier spring peak discharge in many glacier and snow-fed rivers
  • Lake and river warming — affecting thermal structure and water quality
  • Earlier spring events: leaf unfolding, bird migration and egg-laying, for example:
    • Shifting ranges of plant and animal species
    • Changing Arctic and Antarctic flora and fauna with far-reaching disruptions of the food chain.

The IPCC report also shows that some adaptation is already occurring. However, more extensive adaptation is required in vulnerable regions and sectors (such as water resource management; human health; agriculture; building sector).

For more information on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in Europe, please see the following reports:

Climate change and water adaptation issues

Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe

You can visit the IPCC homepage here:

Access more information on this IPCC report here:


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



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