World could heat up by 4 degrees by 2060, warns report

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Washington: The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank.

All regions of the world would suffer – some more than others – but the report finds that the poor will suffer the most.

"This report is a sobering look at what a 4 degree Celsius warmer world would look like. There would be massive disruptions of some of our most basic systems, water supplies, the viability of coastal cities, entire populations that live in low-lying areas. But moreover it has implications for disaster risk management. It has implications for supply. And most importantly for us the worst impacts are going to happen in the poorest countries, to the poorest people," said Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group.

Turn Down the Heat, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, says that the 4°C scenarios are potentially devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher under and malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased intensity of tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

Kim further said, "You know, I have a three year old son and when he's my age he could be living in a completely different world, one in which we don't have enough food to feed our population, one in which cities are inundated with water. And the window is narrow. We have got to take action now. You know, we deal with many different problems at the World Bank and so many of them are traceable back to the problem of climate change. Food security is an enormous issue related to climate change. The management of disaster is an enormous and growing issue related to climate change. We have to take action now. We know we can do it and we know we can also look ahead to inspiring a low carbon future. We just have to work together to make it happen."

The report notes, however, that a 4°C world is not inevitable and that with sustained policy action warming can still be held below 2°C, which is the goal adopted by the international community and one that already brings some serious damages and risks to the environment and human populations.

The World Bank Group's work on inclusive green growth has found that with more efficient and smarter use of energy and natural resources opportunities exist to drastically reduce the climate impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth. 

Those initiatives could include: putting the more than US$ 1 trillion of fossil fuel and other harmful subsidies to better use; introducing natural capital accounting into national accounts; expanding both public and private expenditures on green infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather and urban public transport systems designed to minimize carbon emission and maximize access to jobs and services; supporting carbon pricing and international and national emissions trading schemes; and increasing energy efficiency – especially in buildings – and the share of renewable power produced. -UNifeed
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