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IPCC: The Regional Impacts of Climate Change - An Assessment of Vulnerability

04 Nov 2000

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was jointly established by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 to assess the scientific and technical literature on climate change, the potential impacts of changes in climate, and options for adaption to and mitigation of climate change. Since its inception, the IPCC has produced a series of Assessment Reports, Special Reports, Technical Papers, methodologies, and other products which have become standard works of reference, widely used by policymakers, scientists, and other experts.

This Special Report, which has been produced by Working Group II of the IPCC, builds on the Working Group's contribution to the Second Assessment Report (SAR), and incorporates more recent information made available since mid-1995. It has been prepared in response to a request from the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It addresses an important question posed by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, namely, the degree to which human conditions and the natural environment are vulnerable to the potential effects of climate change. The report establishes a common base of information regarding the potential costs and benefits of climatic change, including the evaluation of uncertainties, to help the COP determine what adaptation and mitigation measures might be justified. The report consists of vulnerability assessments for 10 regions that comprise the Earth's entire land surface and adjoining coastal seas: Africa, Arid Western Asia (including the Middle East), Australasia, Europe, Latin America, North America, the Polar Regions (The Arctic and the Antarctic), Small Island States, Temperate Asia, and Tropical Asia. It also includes several annexes that provide information about climate observations, climate projections, vegetation distribution projections, and socioeconomic trends.

As usual in the IPCC, success in producing this report has depended on the enthusiasm and cooperation of numerous scientists and other experts worldwide. These individuals have given generously of their time, often going beyond reasonable demands of duty. We applaud, admire, and are grateful for their commitment to the IPCC process. We are pleased to note the continuing efforts made by the IPCC to ensure participation of scientists and other experts from the developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Given the regional focus of this report, their participation was especially essential to its successful completion. We also express our thanks to the many governments, including those in the developing regions and regions with economies in transition, that supported these scientists and experts in their work.

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