Climate change impacts ‘unavoidable’ but ‘can be reduced’, says World Bank

Even ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change the fact that the Earth is locked into warming 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, meaning climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable.

That’s according to a new report commissioned by The World Bank Group – Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal – carried out by scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.


The report analyses the likely impacts of 2C and 4C warming above pre-industrial levels, focussing on the regions of Latin-America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia.

The risk of a reduction in crop yields and production losses dramatically increases above 1.5C to 2C warming, with strong repercussions on food security and a negative effect on economic growth and development, social stability and well-being. Impacts would be felt disproportionately in developing countries around the equatorial regions.

Image: multi-model mean of the percentage of summer months with highly unusual temperatures in a 2C world (left) and a 4C world (right) in 2071–2099, compared with base line 1951–1980So far, ‘climate policy has not succeeded in curbing global greenhouse gas emissions, and emissions are steadily rising.’ However, many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2C.

Record-breaking temperatures

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said: “Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most.

“We’re already seeing record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places, and drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean becoming drier. These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people.

“They also have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.

“The good news is that we can take action that reduces the rate of climate change and promotes economic growth, ultimately stopping our journey down this dangerous path.

“World leaders and policy makers should embrace affordable solutions like carbon pricing and policy choices that shift investment to clean public transport, cleaner energy and more energy efficient factories, buildings and appliances.”

Substantial change

World Bank Group vice president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte said: “The report makes crystal clear that we cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions. Leaders must step up and take the necessary decisions on how we manage our economies towards clean growth and resilient development.

“Urgent and substantial technological, economic, institutional and behavioural change is needed to reverse present trends. Economic development and climate protection can be complementary. We need the political will to make this happen.”

Earlier this month, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) released a Social Security and Megatrends report which reveled that, by 2060, social security systems may not be able to cope with the natural disasters and emergencies caused by climate change.

Earlier today (24 November), edie reported on a Populous poll of 2000 Britons, suggesting that 73% want international leaders to agree a deal to tackle climate change ahead of the Paris 2015 conference.

Lois Vallely

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