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IPCC warns of intensifying extreme weather as a result of climate change

Climate change is already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. Many of observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Without additional mitigation efforts, global warming will lead to severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts that may exceed adaptation limits.

Extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent. A 1-in-20 year annual maximum daily precipitation amount is likely to become a 1-in- 5 or 1-in-15 year event by the end of the 21st century in many regions. The area encompassed by monsoon systems will expand and precipitation will intensify. Onset dates will be earlier and retreat dates will be delayed resulting in lengthening of the monsoon season. Tropical cyclones will become intense with increase in maximum wind speed and heavy rains.

These sentences were picked up from IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5)* which has just been finalized and released at the beginning of November 2014. It provides critically important information on the impacts of climate change to be considered in the discussions on Post-2015 DRR Framework (HFA2) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in the planning of disaster risk reduction at national and international levels in accordance with HFA2 and SDGs for decades thereafter. Please refer to my previous message:"Towards 2015".

Until a few decades ago, climate change had not been considered so seriously. Many people were even skeptical about it. But now we perceive it from various phenomena, in particular, heavy rains and disasters of unprecedented magnitude frequently occurring in our own country and at various parts of the world.

In Japan, for example, a total of 1,043 sediment-related disasters occurred in 2014 (by the end of October), in most of which the maximum rainfall per hour exceeded 100mm. People in affected areas said without exception that they had never experienced rains and disasters of such magnitude before. This indicates occurrence of rains and disasters of unprecedented magnitude actually at various places in Japan.

Climate change is affecting sustainable development with various impacts, one of which is, as indicated by IPCC, the change in precipitation patterns: Heavy rains are increasing to cause disasters of greater magnitude, especially sediment-related disasters as mentioned above. "Sabo" we are engaged in is so important to enhance resilience to such disasters, and thus to contribute to sustainable development.

IPCC AR5 was prepared so timely for inclusion of "climate change and disasters" in HFA2 which will be adopted at the 3rd World Conference for DRR in March 2015 as a key issue.

My message: Let us join the discussions on HFA2 and SDGs as far as possible according to our respective position and status in the country, so that the importance of Sabo will be well recognized and reflected in HFA2 and SDGs, and will be highlighted in the subsequent national action plans of each country. Opinions of practitioners like Sabo engineers are indispensable because high level decisions are used to be made by politicians who are not necessarily well aware of real situation on the ground.

*IPCC Reports:
- A series of assessment reports: 1st Assessment Report (AR1) in 1990, AR2 in 1995, AR3 in 2001, AR4 in 2007 and AR5 in 2014
- Special report: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) in 2014
- AR5 consists of reports of three Working Groups prepared over four years and Synthesis Report which was prepared integrating WG reports and released on 2 November 2014.

November 2014

Hidetomi Oi

President of International Sabo Association