The World Bank is taking a more aggressive stance regarding climate change based on the results of a new report that warns mean global temperature is on track to rise 4º C while experiencing more frequent and intense extreme weather and “life-threatening sea level rise.” Contributing least to human carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the world's poorest nations nonetheless stand to suffer the worst, according to a press release.
The 4º C trajectory we're on is twice the consensus tipping point threshold postulated by climate scientists contributing to UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) research and reporting as a point of no return. Extreme heat waves, declining food stocks, loss of life-supporting ecosystems and biodiversity and life-threatening rises in sea level are in store, according to the conclusions published in, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4º C Warmer World Must be Avoided.”
Lacking infrastructure, resources as broadly defined, and hence resilience and adaptive capacity, poor countries are more vulnerable to climate change impacts, which is “likely to undermine development efforts and global development goals,” the study's authors, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, state.
More mitigation: The best insurance
“Further mitigation action is the best insurance against an uncertain future,” the report authors assert. "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today.
Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."
The report's release comes as IPCC scientists and panels ready the release of the fifth in a series of global climate change assessment reports, which is due to publish in 2013/14. Representatives from the 194 national governments and the EU as a regional bloc who've signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are due to meet for the 18th Conference of Parties (COP 18) for nearly weeks starting next Monday in Doha, Qatar.
Reviewed by a panel of expert scientists, the “Turn Down the Heat” consists of a synthesis of recent scientific literature, as well as new analysis of likely climate change impacts and risks, the World Bank explains in its press release. Given current trends, mean global temperature could rise as much 4º C by the end of the 21st century—that's including nations meeting their current pledges to reduce GHG emissions.
"This report reinforces the reality that today’s climate volatility affects everything we do," commented Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. "We will redouble our efforts to build adaptive capacity and resilience, as well as find solutions to the climate challenge."
The World Bank doubled its lending for climate change adaptation in 2011 and plans to increase its support for less developed and developing countries' carbon emissions mitigation initiatives, as well as those that promote “inclusive green growth and climate-smart development.”
Among its financial resources, the bank administers the $7.2 billion Climate Investment Funds, which are now up and running in 48 countries. These funds have been leveraged by an additional $43 billion for clean investment and climate resilience efforts, according to the press release.
Maine image credit: Satellite imagery of Greenland ice sheet melt, World Bank
Featured image credit: CasualCapture: courtesy flicker