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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

World Bank: "the new climate normal" is anything but

A new report from the World Bank finds that the world is already locked in to warming that's 1.5°C above pre-industrial time, and without concerted action to reduce emissions, the planet is on pace for 2°C  warming by mid-century - and 4°C (7°F) or more “by the time today’s teenagers are in their 80s.”

Turn Down the Heat – Vol. 2 focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia. It follows 2012’s Volume 1 that I blogged about here and a 2013 report that focused on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia.

Volume 2 says plainly:
The data show that dramatic climate changes, heat and weather extremes are already impacting people, damaging crops and coastlines and putting food, water, and energy security at risk...If the planet continues warming to 4°C, climatic conditions, heat and other weather extremes considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the new climate normal—a world of increased risks and instability. The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. The task of promoting human development, of ending poverty, increasing global prosperity, and reducing global inequality will be very challenging in a 2°C world, but in a 4°C world there is serious doubt whether this can be achieved at all. Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the climate impacts being felt today and the unavoidable consequences of a rapidly warming world. The benefits of strong, early action on climate change, action that follows clean, low carbon pathways and avoids locking in unsustainable growth strategies, far outweigh the costs. Many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming to below 2°C. But, the time to act is now.
Clearly, the impacts and consequences of climate disruption will be unevenly and inequitably felt, with the poorest nations suffering the most. That is ethically unacceptable, and by itself demands vastly more of affluent nations.  But the impacts will be felt by all of us. Are we willing to allow the world that our children inherit to be a completely different world than we are living in today?

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