Climate Change 2001:
Impacts, Adaptationand Vulnerability
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4. Vulnerability Varies across Regions

The vulnerability of human populations and natural systems to climate change differs substantially across regions and across populations within regions. Regional differences in baseline climate and expected climate change give rise to different exposures to climate stimuli across regions. The natural and social systems of different regions have varied characteristics, resources, and institutions, and are subject to varied pressures that give rise to differences in sensitivity and adaptive capacity. From these differences emerge different key concerns for each of the major regions of the world. Even within regions however, impacts, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability will vary. [5]

In light of the above, all regions are likely to experience some adverse effects of climate change. Table SPM-2 presents in a highly summarized fashion some of the key concerns for the different regions. Some regions are particularly vulnerable because of their physical exposure to climate change hazards and/or their limited adaptive capacity. Most less-developed regions are especially vulnerable because a larger share of their economies are in climate-sensitive sectors and their adaptive capacity is low due to low levels of human, financial, and natural resources, as well as limited institutional and technological capability. For example, small island states and low-lying coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to increases in sea level and storms, and most of them have limited capabilities for adaptation. Climate change impacts in polar regions are expected to be large and rapid, including reduction in sea-ice extent and thickness and degradation of permafrost. Adverse changes in seasonal river flows, floods and droughts, food security, fisheries, health effects, and loss of biodiversity are among the major regional vulnerabilities and concerns of Africa, Latin America, and Asia where adaptation opportunities are generally low. Even in regions with higher adaptive capacity, such as North America and Australia and New Zealand, there are vulnerable communities, such as indigenous peoples, and the possibility of adaptation of ecosystems is very limited. In Europe, vulnerability is significantly greater in the south and in the Arctic than elsewhere in the region. [5]

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