In a series of blog posts curated by the World Economic Forum’s Climate Change Initiatives, a number of leading voices will present their perspectives on climate change. Contributions are linked to the Forum’s Green Growth Action Alliance project and the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. In the following post, Patrick Verkooijen, the World Bank’s Special Representative for Climate Change, calls for action.
We know now that the goal adopted by the international community to limit climate change to a maximum temperature rise of 2°C would already bring serious damages and risks, particularly for the most vulnerable and poorest countries. And, as a series of recent reports have indicated, current greenhouse gas emission pledges place the world on a trajectory for warming of well over 3°C, even if they are fully met.
Last week, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched a new report that examines the risks of a 4°C hotter world by the end of this century. Turn Down the Heat, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, warns that without policy action, results could be dire – flooding of cities, rise in malnutrition, unbearable heat waves and irreversible loss of biodiversity.
While every region of the world will be affected, those least able to adapt – the poor and most vulnerable – would be hit hardest.
A 4°C warmer world can and must be avoided; we need to hold warming below 2°C. A lack of ambitious action on climate change threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development.
As Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice-President for Sustainable Development, wrote in her blog this week: “We need a global response equal to the scale of the problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity, but time is very, very short.”
It’s increasingly clear that the world must tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively. Adaptation alone is not an alternative to mitigation. Aggressive mitigation efforts are essential and solutions exist.
Through more efficient and smarter use of energy and natural resources there are opportunities to drastically reduce the climate impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth.
The warnings of the World Bank and others are reverberating in the corridors in Doha this week at the UN climate change conference as well as around the world. Let’s now seize this opportunity of renewed interest and awareness of the dangers of climate change and move forward on a path of global climate action.
The Author: Patrick Verkooijen is the World Bank’s Special Representative for Climate Change.
Image: Smoke rising from a chimney of a garbage processing plant in India REUTERS/Ajay Verma