Freshwater resources under success and failure of the Paris climate agreement
Population growth will in many regions increase the pressure on water resources and likely increase the number of people affected by water scarcity. In parallel, global warming causes hydrological changes which will affect freshwater supply for human use in many regions. This study estimates the exposure of future population to severe hydrological changes relevant from a freshwater resource perspective at different levels of global mean temperature rise above pre-industrial level (ΔTglob). The analysis is complemented by an assessment of water scarcity that would occur without additional climate change due to population change alone; this is done to identify the population groups that are faced with particularly high adaptation challenges. The results are analysed in the context of success and failure of implementing the Paris Agreement to evaluate how climate mitigation can reduce the future number of people exposed to severe hydrological change. The results show that without climate mitigation efforts, in the year 2100 about 4.9 billion people in the SSP2 population scenario would more likely than not be exposed to severe hydrological change, and about 2.1 billion of them would be faced with particularly high adaptation challenges due to already prevailing water scarcity. Limiting warming to 2 ∘C by a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement would strongly reduce these numbers to 615 million and 290 million, respectively. At the regional scale, substantial water-related risks remain at 2 ∘C, with more than 12 % of the population exposed to severe hydrological change and high adaptation challenges in Latin America and the Middle East and north Africa region. Constraining ΔTglob to 1.5 ∘C would limit this share to about 5 % in these regions.