Topics: Earth and Life Sciences, Energy and Low-Carbon Futures, Resources and Pollution
Type: Collaborative publications
Publication date: December 2022



Authors: Professor Nigel ArnellGalina Jönsson, Professor Tom Oliver, Dr Deepa SenapathiDr Ajay Gambhir

This report, produced by the Grantham Institute and University of Reading for ClimateWorks, highlights how humanity depends on healthy ecosystems, and the enormous impact on societies when these ecosystems are damaged as a result of climate change. It also considers the steps required to better understand and characterise the systemic risks from climate change-driven ecosystem damages.


  • Ecosystems provide vital services to humanity, protecting us from large-scale and potentially catastrophic risks.
  • These services include the pollination of plants, healthy soil formation and protection from erosion, water and air purification, flood management, disease control and storage of carbon in the land and oceans.
  • Ecosystems are under threat from over-grazing of land, deforestation, pollution of waterways and the oceans, and other consequences of human activities.
  • Climate change is also a direct driver of ecosystem damages through, for example land and ocean heatwaves, ocean acidification, storms, floods and droughts.  
  • These damages could exacerbate the spread of disease, the risk of wildfires and landslides, and the loss of vital land and water resources, such as farmland, forests and fisheries.
  • Such losses could result in wide-ranging, systemic risks to societies, with potentially global-scale consequences.

Download: Climate change, Ecosystem Impacts and Systemic Risks [PDF]

[Image: The Lena Delta Reserve, the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia, by USGS (United States Geological Survey) on Unsplash]