In The Guardian World Bank president Jim Yong Kim writes about the World Bank's new report (pdf) “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” and warns that “we’re on track for a 4°C (7 degree F) warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.” He says that the latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action A world four degrees C warmer could be too hot to handle, but the exciting prospect of low-carbon living could stop it happening.
The World Bank Group commissioned a report (pdf) by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research to help us understand the science and the potential impact on good economic development of a 4C increase. Launched on Monday, the scenarios in the report are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production, potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, and wet regions wetter; unprecedented heatwaves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems. [...]The impact on food security is particularly troubling, with the latest science “much less optimistic” that the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment report:
And, most important, a world that is 4C warmer is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future needs. The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach for millions of people in the developing world; it also threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development.
These results suggest instead a rapidly rising risk of crop yield reductions as the world warms. Large negative effects have been observed at high and extreme temperatures in several regions including India, Africa, the United States, and Australia. For example, significant nonlinear effects have been observed in the United States for local daily temperatures increasing to 29°C for corn and 30°C for soybeans. These new results and observations indicate a significant risk of high-temperature thresholds being crossed that could substantially undermine food security globally in a 4°C world.After knocking the wind out of us Jim Yong Kim does stress that this is not a foregone conclusion. That there are measures that can be taken and we should not focus on doomsday scenarios. The initiatives can be completed to drastically reduce the impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth.
Those initiatives include: putting the more than $1tn (£630bn) of fossil fuel and other harmful subsidies to better use; factoring the value of the natural environment into economic decision-making; expanding public and private expenditures on green infrastructure that is able to withstand extreme weather; investing in urban public transport systems designed to minimise carbon emission and maximise 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.my emphasis
If the World Bank is to have us take its warnings seriously it must stop funding all new fossil fuel plants!
We are being shocked into action. Can we do it? There is no question. We must.