Climate change in the news (Nov30 - Dec 4, 2009)
- News Update
So how long do we have to wait to see climate impacts? We know that scientists, economists, and politicians confront this question routinely, giving rise to much debate. Our recent multicountry poll shows that people around the world already have their own answer. Particularly in developing countries, ordinary people believe that climate change is damaging them—now.
Urgency: how soon will the effects of climate change be felt?
In 8 of the 15 countries, a majority of the public thinks climate change is substantially harming their fellow citizens now. Some of the largest majorities on this question appeared among people in the low-income countries: in Kenya 88 percent think people in their country are being harmed now, in Vietnam 86 percent, and in Senegal 75 percent. In both China (71 percent) and India (59 percent) large majorities believe that impacts are being felt now.
On the other hand, in five countries, less than half the public thinks that climate change is affecting their country negatively now: Russia (27 percent), the US (34 percent), Indonesia (39 percent), Iran (42 percent), and France (47 percent).
Answers from a multi-country opinion poll
Does anyone really know what world leaders are thinking about climate change? Well, at least their public statements are covered on TV. Knowing what common people think is another ball game entirely. Some opinion polls on climate change shed light on public attitudes, but most pay little or no attention to developing countries.
With this in mind, the team working on the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change commissioned a multi-country poll of public attitudes to climate change, which for the first time targeted developing countries with a comprehensive set of questions regarding climate policy.
Our aim was to a) give the public in developing countries voice in a debate often dominated by developed countries’ views, and b) provide decision makers with a tool to assess the state of public views on climate change in their countries. Countries polled include: Kenya, Senegal, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Japan, and the USA.
Senator John Kerry’s recent speech to World Bank staff, which a colleague reported on earlier, was clear and powerful. He said that the development challenges of the 21st century cannot be delivered by international financial institutions with 20th century structures and priorities. He could have not have started his speech better that he did—with a call for the governance of these institutions to reflect today’s transformed global economic landscape and a merit-based staff selection system from bottom to top.
In our work and experience at the World Bank, we see significant links between the three main challenges that Kerry outlined (empowering women, enhancing food security, and addressing climate change). Even as my agriculture colleagues focus on the nexus between climate change and food security, there is mounting evidence of a disproportionate burden on women from climate-related risks.
|Photo ©Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank|
|Photo © iStockphoto.com|
In September, a diverse group of scientists—among them the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen—presented in the journal Nature a new framework to analyze sustainable development at a global scale. This framework recognizes that humans have now become the main driver of global environmental change, and that our impact on the planet is growing stronger.
We are affecting every one of the major natural processes which are important for our own welfare, wrecking the ability of earth systems to regulate themselves, and buffer disturbances. In fact, our actions may be shifting earth processes to a completely new state that is a far cry from the extraordinarily stable conditions (in the entire history of planet earth) that allowed the development of human civilization since 10,000 BC. In the words of Paul Crutzen and colleagues, we have entered a new geologic era, the “Anthropocene”.
Our pressure on the planet appears more and more troubling as our understanding of earth processes improves. There is increasing evidence that many earth systems and biophysical phenomena do not change in a linear fashion, but rather experience abrupt changes when thresholds are crossed.
In Peru, innovative forest fire management prevents the risk of more fires with rising temperatures. In Kenya, communities share experiences with multi-pronged approaches to managing climate risk, combining indigenous knowledge with modern technologies. In India, women and youth use reality-show methods to tell of climate options. In the Philippines, a mangrove restoration initiative helps improve livelihoods during storms now, and protects against longer-term climate change impacts.
These are just some of the examples of the “100 ideas to save the planet” that I encountered as a juror for this year’s Development Marketplace, which focused on innovative solutions for climate change. Development Marketplace is an annual competitive grant program that identifies and funds innovative, early-stage development projects that have high potential for replication and development impact.
Of these one hundred great ideas, 26 winners were announced today in three categories—Resilience of Indigenous Peoples Communities to Climate Risks; Climate Risk Management with Multiple Benefits; and Climate Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management. Each winner receives a grant of up to $200,000 to implement their project over two years.
You can read more about the winners in these categories (and also about how this global competition works and who funds it) on the Development Marketplace website and follow the conversation on the Development Marketplace blog. For many of the winners, it was a long journey to Washington DC to compete for the grants.
Of the 450 submissions from journalists in over 100 countries who registered for the opportunity to win one of the Earth Journalism Awards (EJAs) to be given at Copenhagen next month, 15 winners have now been announced in categories such as adaptation, human voices, forests, energy, and so on.
But that’s not all. Here’s where “everyone” comes in. You can now help choose a final winner by reading the winning entries online and voting for the best story—the one, in your opinion, that most deserves to get the attention of negotiators from the 192 countries that will be at Copenhagen.
The EJAs are being put together by Internews, a global media assistance organization, in partnership with sponsors such as the World Bank—including with explicit support from the authors of this year’s World Development Report (WDR) 2010: Development and Climate Change.
After more than a year's consultation, writing, and refining, the 2010 World Development Report is now available in its final form on our website. If you downloaded the advance files that were posted in September, please do download the final versions now, as there have been quite a few changes to the text and graphics. The report can be accessed online free of charge, but you can also order the book at our bookstore.
So what exactly is new on our site? Individual chapters of the report, an overview, and a statistical annex, all of which are in English. The overview is also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish on our Full Text page. And if you didn't see them earlier, do look at our suite of multilingual websites which contain a wealth of materials including multimedia.