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Species and Climate Change- Issues Brief

Publication date:
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Type of publication:

Threats and responses  
•       Current global mean warming of less than 1ºC above pre-industrial levels has already significantly impacted the Earth’s climate system and the majority of the world’s ecosystems and species.  
•       The majority of this warming is caused by fossil fuel-generated CO 2  which is also causing ocean acidification to occur at an unprecedented rate, with profound ramifications for biodiversity and humanity. 
•       Observed species-level impacts include exposure to rapidly shifting climate zones, increased extreme weather events, rising sea levels and changes in the distribution and seasonal activities of a wide range of species. 
•       Conserving and restoring terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems – and their component species – need to be recognised as an essential part of climate change mitigation and adaptation policy.  
•       Urgent mitigation action to stabilise and reduce CO 2  levels is essential if catastrophic biodiversity impacts are to be avoided. 
•     Essential adaptation action needs to include ecosystem protection to ensure as much species resilience as possible and to maintain natural carbon sinks.