Global warming puts livelihoods at risk: World Bank

A new report released by the World Bank this week finds that dramatic climate changes and weather extremes will affect the livelihoods of millions of people and pose severe risks to development.

Climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable because the Earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, according to a new scientific report released by the World Bank. Even very ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change this.

“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,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

“These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people,” he added.

Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes are already affecting people around the world, damaging crops and coastlines, and putting water security at risk, according to the report, Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal. The report analyses the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming above pre-industrial levels on agricultural production, water resources, ecosystem services, and coastal vulnerability across Latin-America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia.

Prepared for the World Bank Group by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, it reveals how rising global temperatures are increasingly threatening the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, crucially magnifying problems each region is struggling with today.

A common threat across the three regions is the risks posed by heat extremes. State‐of‐the‐art climate modeling shows that “highly unusual” heat extremes, similar to the heat-waves experienced in the US in 2012 and Russia and Central Asia in 2010, increase rapidly under a 4°C emission pathway.

It also reveals that the risks of reduced crop yields and production losses for the regions studied increase significantly above 1.5°C to 2°C warming. This will have strong repercussions on food security and could negatively affect economic growth and development, social stability and well‐being.

“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,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change. “Economic development and climate protection can be complementary. We need the political will to make this happen.”


Photo credit: UN Photo/John Isaac

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