Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Current Affairs - 2019

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Royal Bengal Tigers may not survive Climate Change: UN Report

According to a recent UN report, Climate change and rising sea levels may eventually wipe out ‘The Sundarbans’, which is one of world’s last and largest tiger strongholds. The studies of report rely on climate change scenarios developed by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its simulation models.

Key Findings of Report

  • As per UN findings if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continued at current rate, the atmosphere would warm as much as 1.5C (above preindustrial levels) by 2040. This climate change would lead to rising sea level and existential threat to the Sundarbans.
  • In 2010, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, a Non-governmental organization) estimated that sea level rise of 11 inches could reduce number of tigers in Sundarbans by 96% within a few decades.
  • By 2070, there will be not be any suitable habitats of tiger remaining in Bangladesh Sundarbans.
  • 70% of Sundarbans is just a few feet above sea level, thus faces grave threat due to climate changes. It is one of the prime habitats of Bengal tigers, who are among 500,000 land species whose survival is in question because of threats to their natural habitats due to climate change.
  • Once the Sundarbans are flooded it may lead to increased confrontations (conflict) between humans and tigers, as the latter would stray outside their habitat in search of new land.
  • Conservation efforts and fight against habitat loss in Sunderbans needs to begin immediately, as it could take about 20 years for these efforts to even start showing any results, but if action isn’t taken soon there won’t be any forest or tigers to save in 50 years.

About Sundarbans

  • They are 10,000 square kilometres of marshy mangroves ecosystem shared between Bangladesh and India.
  • They hosts world’s largest mangrove forest and a rich ecosystem that supports hundreds of animal species, including Bengal tiger.
  • They are only mangrove forests in world where Bengal tigers are found.

About Bengal tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris)

  • It is national animal of India and Bangladesh.
  • It found predominantly in India with some populations in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar.
  • Initiatives by India: As Bengal tiger species is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies (about 2,500 left in wild) Indian government undertakes various initiave to in a bid to conserve species. The Project Tiger launched in 1973 was India’s first-ever tiger conservation programme.
  • IUCN Red List Status is endangered.
  • Since early 1900s, hunting, poaching, habitat loss, and illegal trade of animal parts (to meet growing demand in Asia) have decreased global population of tigers from around 100,000 to fewer than 4,000 and puy the species at risk.

40% of Amphibian Species threatened: IPBES Report

According to a study, called Global Assessment about 40% of amphibian species and more than a third (33%) of all marine mammals are threatened.

The report released by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries and supported by 130 countries (including the U.S., China and Russia). It contained a petition of estimates made after three-year review of about 15,000 scientific papers.

Key Highlights of Report

  • Up to one million of estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species on earth is at risk of extinction, with many within decades.
  • Up to 40% of amphibian species and more than a third (33%) of all marine mammals are threatened.
  • Cause: According to report species face risk because of relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with impact of climate change. Industrial farming and fishing are other major drivers of threat. It also shows deep impact of rise of globalised industrial society on earth over past half century (50 years). This loss is direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being through-out the world.
  • Recommendations:
    • Only a wide-ranging transformation of economic and financial system globally could pull our ecosystems back from brink of collapse.
    • It reiterates message by United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which stressed that profound economic and social changes would be needed to curb greenhouse gases (GHGs) quickly enough to avert most devastating consequences of warming in world.
    • It suggests that world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing
  • Way Forward: The findings of Global Assessment will add pressure on countries to come out with a bold action plan to protect wildlife at 15th session of Conference of the Parties to the Conference on Biodiversity (CBD), taking place in China in October 2020.

About IPBES

  • It was founded by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 21 April 2012.
  • It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany.
  • It is a global scientific body similar in composition and functioning of IPCC.
  • Function: It is an intergovernmental body established by UN to assess state of planet’s biodiversity and of ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers.
  • Members: At present over 130 governments are its member States. India is its founding member.