The recently released fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes abundantly clear that human-induced climate change is taking place, and that unchecked climate change poses a serious threat to economic development and human well-being. Even leaving aside the problem of increased risk of low-probability but catastrophic events, climate change threatens people and places through damages to unique and important ecosystems, increases in severe weather events, reductions in productivity, and needs for increased expenditures to counter the threats such as greater costs to build and maintain infrastructure. For a number of reasons, the poor are likely to be disproportionately affected by these threats.
With a virtual certainty that sea-level rise (SLR) will continue beyond 2100 even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized today, it is essential that we gain understanding of the potential impacts of SLR and begin planning adaptation, especially for countries with major risk of SLR. The urgency of responding to the growing alarm over climate change effects worldwide is hitting headlines this week, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its Climate Change 2014 report warning that climate change is already having widespread effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is putting policies to meet and combat climate change on top of the Bank’s agenda. That is extremely timely and has the potential to fundamentally revitalize the Bank, making it more relevant in today’s world.
Global finance for new clean energy projects is currently at $300-400 billion per year, of which the Bank funds about $10 billion. The International Energy Agency estimates that a minimum agenda, compatible with a two-degree temperature target, requires “green” energy investments of about $1 trillion per year. The Bank alone will only be able to provide a small portion of such additional finance.
Sea-level rise from climate change is a serious global threat, and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that sea-level will continue to rise for centuries even if green house gas concentrations were to be stabilized today.
Recently, Brian Blankespoor, Benoit Laplante and I investigated potential impacts of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands. Our study indicates a rise in sea levels due to climate change of just one meter could destroy more than 60 percent of the developing world’s coastal wetlands currently found at one meter or less elevation. We estimate that such a rise would lead to economic losses of around $630 million per year.
For poor countries, building weather and hydrological services to produce reliable forecasts often does not appear as a priority. Such services are seen as a luxury, rather than a necessity, in low income countries. But is it really the case?
In many countries, human and economic losses caused by weather extremes are on the rise, and they sometimes increase more rapidly than wealth. In some regions, natural disasters now represent a significant obstacle to poverty alleviation at the household level (many studies show that disasters can put households in poverty traps) and at the macro level (some regions are affected by regular events and spend a large fraction of their resources for reconstruction instead of development).
New content aims to bring app developers and programmers together with the World Bank's open climate data.
On December 2nd, 2011 the World Bank Group announced the launch of a new “Apps for Climate” competition, to discover extraordinary ways to use open climate data. The competition encourages scientists, software developers, development practitioners and others to create applications that use open data to help solve the development problems that climate change poses. It aims to promote innovative use of open climate data – for example, through apps that help understand and manage weather-related disasters, to agriculture, food and water supplies, rising sea levels and other climate related development challenges.
The Horn of Africa is facing the worst food crisis ever. Over 12 million people, including malnourished children, have been severely affected in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The UN estimates that around $2.5bn is needed for the humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa. Many countries have come to the rescue and funds have started to flow in. The Data blog has a very informative post with charts and figures on the donated funds and distribution so far.
With soaring global food prices and climate change, longer-term solutions are needed to ensure food security. For Africa, irrigation can be a beneficial solution, as explained by Shanta Devarajan in his post ‘Irrigation and Climate Change’. Elsewhere in Europe, ‘food sovereignty’ is viewed as the future of food, and interestingly the developing countries are showing the way. Read this post from Poverty Matters to know more.
This entry is part of a series of posts written by members of the Environment and Energy team of the World Bank's Research Group on economic and policy issues involving energy and climate change mitigation.
Ongoing controversy has surrounded production of crop-based biofuels, ostensibly for the purposes of increase renewable energy use and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that causes global warming. To illustrate, a recent report on price volatility in food and agricultural markets prepared by numerous international organizations, including the World Bank, at the request of G20 Governments recommended elimination of current national policies that subsidize or mandate biofuels production or consumption. Some international non-governmental organizations, such as Action Aid strongly supported the recommendation, while some other organizations, such as Renewable Fuel Association opposed it. The June meeting of G20 agriculture ministers did not make any decision in favor or against biofuels, deciding instead to have further analysis.
This entry is the first of a series of posts written by members of the World Bank's Development Research group's Environment and Energy team on economic and policy issues involving energy and climate change mitigation.
Issues relating to energy are among the most important and difficult challenges confronting the world today. Providing sufficient energy to meet the requirements of a growing world population with rising living standards will require major advances in energy supply and efficiency. Doing this while mitigating the risks of climate disruption will be an even more challenging undertaking. It will require a significant shift in the historic pattern of fossil-fuel use and a major transformation of the global energy system. Especially in the developing countries, the choice of technology, policy, and economic levers that will be used to transform and expand their energy systems will have profound implications for their growth, international competitiveness, and economic security and prosperity. This overview focuses on the challenges related to electricity supply; subsequent blogs will address other parts of the energy system.
It is still too early to estimate with much precision the quantitative impacts of the devastating events in Japan on the global energy sector, as well as the effects on energy and economic activity in Japan. Nevertheless, some qualitative conclusions can be drawn about the near and medium effects on Japanese and global energy balances. Much more difficult and speculative are judgments about the effect of the nuclear accident that resulted from the natural disaster on the longer-term energy picture.