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Climate Change Impact on Species


The recent update of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, revealed at the 28th Conference of Parties, highlights the growing impacts of climate change on a wide array of species. The updated list comprises 157,190 species, with 44,016 facing the threat of extinction.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the IUCN Red List Report
  2. IUCN Red List Overview

Key Highlights of the IUCN Red List Report

Species Threatened by Climate Change:
  • Various species, from Atlantic salmon to green turtles, are increasingly endangered due to climate change.
  • The IUCN Director General stresses the need for urgent and ambitious climate action to address species decline.
  • The report highlights the interconnectedness of climate and biodiversity crises, advocating collaborative efforts for sustainable solutions.
Freshwater Fish Assessment:
  • The first comprehensive assessment of global freshwater fish species is unveiled.
  • 25% of assessed freshwater fish species face extinction risks.
  • Contributing factors include climate change, pollution, overfishing, and invasive species.
Atlantic Salmon Decline:
  • Atlantic salmon, ray-finned fish in the North Atlantic Ocean basin, declined by 23% (2006-2020).
  • This shift moved them from the “Least Concern” to “Near Threatened” category.
Green Turtle Populations:
  • Central South Pacific and East Pacific green turtle populations are respectively classified as “Endangered” and “Vulnerable.”
  • Climate change impacts their life cycle, affecting hatching success and food sources.
Big-Leaf Mahogany Status:
  • Big-leaf mahogany, a sought-after timber tree, transitions from “Vulnerable” to “Endangered.”
  • Factors include unsustainable harvest, urban encroachment, and illegal logging, leading to a 60% reduction over 180 years.
Scimitar-Horned Oryx and Saiga Antelope:
  • Scimitar-horned oryx, a desert antelope, moves from “Extinct in the Wild” to “Endangered” due to successful reintroduction efforts in the Republic of Chad.
  • Saiga antelope improves from “Critically Endangered” to “Near Threatened” due to conservation measures.

IUCN Red List Overview

Purpose and Significance:
  • The IUCN Red List is a leading global tool for evaluating the risk of extinction in animals, fungi, and plant species.
  • It is universally accessible, providing a crucial indicator of global biodiversity health.
  • Offers comprehensive insights into species’ characteristics, threats, and conservation measures, influencing informed conservation decisions and policies.
Categories and Extinction Risk:
  • The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species, ranging from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).
  • Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU) species are classified as threatened with extinction.
Role in Global Goals:
  • Serves as a key indicator for the Sustainable Development Goals and Aichi Targets, aligning with broader international conservation efforts.
Green Status of Species:
  • Introduces the IUCN Green Status of Species, assessing the recovery of species’ populations and gauging conservation success.
  • Eight Green Status Categories include Extinct in the Wild, Critically Depleted, Largely Depleted, Moderately Depleted, Slightly Depleted, Fully Recovered, Non-Depleted, and Indeterminate.
Conservation Action Assessment:
  • The Green Status assessment evaluates the impact of conservation actions on the current Red List status of species.
  • Offers a dynamic perspective on the effectiveness of conservation efforts and their outcomes.

-Source: IUCN

February 2024