On February 28, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report on community and ecosystem vulnerability and the need to do more now to prepare.
The report confirms what our partners already know: climate change is here, it often shows up through the water cycle, and it’s hitting marginalized communities the hardest. The worst damage isn’t just driven by extreme weather–– it’s the combination of climate disasters with poor (often discriminatory) planning and policies that puts people in harm’s way.
February’s report talks about both drought and flooding, and impacts to drinking water, farming, fisheries, public safety, and more. It also looks at solutions, urging conservation of 30-50% of land, freshwater and ocean areas, and describing ecosystem protection/restoration and “inclusive water regimes” as strategies for resilience.
IPCC reports tend to generate news across the U.S. and around the world, and headlines have been getting increasingly urgent. Last summer, the message that echoed around the media was “code red for humanity.”
We expect the next round of press to strike the same note of alarm, and believe that’s appropriate given the extent to which mitigation and adaptation efforts are lagging behind the need. But, we also feel the U.S. has a real opportunity now to make progress as states and agencies plan more than a trillion in infrastructure spending.
The Water Hub team developed these talking points to help our partners make the case for climate-smart programs and policies, from green infrastructure investments to water conservation and efficiency. We hope they are helpful!
Here are a few key points we want to emphasize:
The latest IPCC report shows we haven’t done enough to protect our communities and ecosystems from climate-driven destruction. We must act now to fix outdated infrastructure, implement nature-based solutions, and follow the leadership of Indigenous and other frontline communities.
Climate change is water change:
- Climate change is driving more extreme weather in communities across the country, from megadroughts to super storms.
- From sewage spills to dry wells, flooded basements to frozen pipes, our water and sanitation systems are failing in extreme weather, especially in Black and Indigenous communities.
- Much of the infrastructure built in the 20th century was designed to control water, but many experts are urging a shift towards green infrastructure that works with nature.
- That means re-wilding rivers, protecting forests and wetlands from development, rebuilding soil health, and replacing pavement with plants.
- The current wave of infrastructure spending can advance equity and resilience by prioritizing multi-benefit projects in disinvested areas like Indian Country, California’s Central Valley and the Gulf South.
Download our full talking points document for more detail about climate-water challenges and solutions.
Image courtesy: Verde