World Bank Report Warns 'Catastrophic Consequences' of Global Warming

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Common Dreams

World Bank Report Warns 'Catastrophic Consequences' of Global Warming

Economic group's call to action acknowledges climate campaigners' years of warning

by
Common Dreams staff

(Photo by the World Bank)

The World Bank is the latest organization to raise alarm against the undeniable threat of climate change. Launched Monday, 'Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided' (pdf) details the catastrophic consequences, specifically within developing nations, of ignoring the global warming crisis. 

The analysis, conducted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, focuses on a revised point-of-no-return temperature rise of 4°C (7.24°F) by the end of the century, a threshold, according to the report, that will likely "trigger widespread crop failures and malnutrition and dislocate large numbers of people from land inundated by rising seas."

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim admitted in a briefing last week that despite world climate goals to hold the average temperature increase to under 2°C, "scientists agree that countries' current emission pledges and commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change would most likely result in 3.5-4°C warming," and added that "the longer those pledges remain unmet, the more likely it is that we will be living in a world that is four degrees warmer by the end of this century."

In the forward to the report, Kim writes:

It is my hope that this report shocks us into action. Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency.

Though not news to many, the predictions for a world 4°C warmer are nonetheless devastating. In an editorial in The Guardian, Kim lists the effects:

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.

'Turn Down the Heat' identifies the most vulnerable cities in developing nations including Mozambique, Madagascar, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

This publication comes a week after the release of the International Energy Agency's 'World Energy Outlook,' in which it was determined that the burning and extraction of only one third of proven reserves of coal, oil and gas will bring us exceedingly close to the danger point of 2°C. Both the IEA report and today's World Bank publication fail to mention the constant and continued efforts of the fossil fuel industry to procure additional reserves, despite these warnings. 

In a cautiously optimistic note, Kim cites "opportunities to drastically reduce the climate impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth." Kelly Rigg, writing for the Huffington Post, ruminates on the possibilities:

There are many policy options governments can and should pursue to deal with the problem: phasing out fossil fuel subsidies while massively increasing support for energy efficiency and renewables; putting a high price on carbon and letting the polluters pay; creating incentives and opportunities for people to get out of their cars and on to mass transit; prohibiting new coal-fired power stations; and withdrawing licenses to explore for and exploit new sources of fossil fuels to name just a few.

But let's be honest. It's going to take a gargantuan effort given that so much is invested in the status quo.

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