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Editorial: Serious measures needed to overcome climate crisis

Climate change has resulted in frequent weather abnormalities, from torrential rain to droughts, causing widespread damage. Its effect on our day-to-day lives is growing more serious.

    Last month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compiled a report on the effects of global warming that included "adaptation measures" to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

    The effects of climate change are wide ranging, from rising sea levels to damage to the agricultural and fishing industries, water shortages, the spread of infectious diseases, increases in refugee numbers and the extinction of living organisms.

    Between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion people -- close to half of the world's population -- are exposed to the effects of the climate crisis. And a majority of those people are living in developing countries or on low incomes.

    To overcome the situation, it is important for developed countries to take the lead in promoting adaptive measures. Funds have been set up to support developing countries, and reforestation, agricultural support and coastal development work are under way. But all this needs to be accelerated.

    Efforts have begun here in Japan, too.

    Moves such as developing rice varieties that can withstand high temperatures and changing crops to match temperature changes are spreading. Another approach has been to relocate bases to places more suited to production.

    Michizakura Shuzo, a sake producer that had been based in central Japan's Gifu Prefecture for 140 years, moved to Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost prefecture, two years ago. Company President Koji Yamada, 62, explained, "It was because it became difficult for us to produce sake as we always had."

    In recent years, the brewer had found it needed large quantities of ice when preparing the sake to sufficiently lower the temperature. In the new location, which has a cooler climate, temperature management to control the sake's taste is easier and less expensive, the brewer says.

    However, adaptation alone won't solve the problem of global warming. The IPCC report pointed out that such measures were approaching their limit.

    Under the Paris Agreement, countries are aiming to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But if greenhouse gases are not reduced, then the world could hit 1.5 C of warming within 20 years.

    The report warned that "if global warming transiently exceeds (the mark of) 1.5 C in the coming decades or later," then the world would face "additional severe risks."

    With the world energy supply unstable in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, efforts toward decarbonization could stagnate. But if we just sit idly by, then recovering from the damage will be difficult. We cannot be lax in our countermeasures.

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