Even if all emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosol precursors ended today, more warming would occur in coming decades than the 0.8°C that has occurred to date, greatly intensifying climate change and its associated impacts. Already, sea level is rising, sea ice and mountain glaciers are retreating, the ranges of plant and animal species are shifting poleward and upward, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are both losing mass. Each round of the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that change is occurring more rapidly than previously projected.
co-authored with Arun Agrawal
Everyone agrees that innovation and its diffusion of innovations are key to managing climate change. Meeting the climate challenge in the coming decades will be fundamentally more difficult if we fail to come up with new, more cost-effective technologies.
But global efforts to innovate and share existing innovations fall woefully short of what is needed.
Nowhere is the gap between need and reality more glaring than for innovations related to adaptation. Members of climate change community who care about innovation have had their sights firmly fixed on technological innovations on the mitigation side: to reduce and capture emissions, to geo-engineer climate, to make energy use more efficient, to meet global energy needs through alternative and advanced renewable sources ... the list goes on.
The two great challenges of the 21st century are the battle against poverty and the management of climate change. On both we must act strongly now and expect to continue that action over the coming decades. Our response to climate change and poverty reduction will define our generation. If we fail on either one of them, we will fail on the other. The current crisis in the financial markets and the economic downturn is new and immediate, although some years in the making. All three challenges require urgent and decisive action, and all three can be overcome together through determined and concerted efforts across the world. But whilst recognising that we must respond, and respond strongly, to all three challenges, we should also recognise the opportunities: a well-constructed response to one can provide great direct advantages and opportunities for the other.
Photo © Julia Bucknall/World Bank
Twenty thousand people milling around thematic, country, commercial booths, attending political, learning, and topical sessions, watching musical and dance performances, and busily socializing in the hallways. All trying to work out how we can better manage water.
"Bridging the Divides" is the perfect name for this conference here in Istanbul. It's a city that links Asia and Europe, a city where many cultures have collided and where the religious buildings have housed worshipers and artifacts from different faiths.
Some readers and activists may question why the World Bank Group funds coal-fired power plants and yet professes to embrace sustainable development. The answer is that there is an urgent need for energy in the poor countries that we serve and indeed in my home country, China. There are roughly 1.6 billion people in developing countries--700 million of whom are in Africa and 550 million in South Asia--who lack access to electricity.
PBS recently ran a Frontline documentary entitled “Heat”, on climate change. A section of the movie describes the status of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the US, a technology that both the IPCC and the IEA consider necessary to achieve emissions reduction. I note that no tests have been run so far in the US to verify the technical feasibility, economic viability and safety of this option. Purely from the technical point of view, the task could be feasible, although extremely challenging. It’s the idea of storing huge amounts of CO2 underground or in the deep seas (less likely) that makes me doubtful. CO2 will need to be sealed away in carefully selected sites, but safety issues are only part of the picture.
|Photo © Dominic Sansoni/World Bank|
The world's attention is sharply focused on the financial crisis right now. Even Europe, which has always pushed for climate change, has begun to talk about potentially postponing the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the world leaders can bail out the financial crisis, climate change is a crisis that’s already happening and will not wait. A green energy technology revolution can not only mitigate climate change, but also create jobs and stimulate economies.
I am really looking forward to the conclusion of the Development Market Place in September. I enjoyed working with World Bank Group (WBG) and external colleagues judging in a previous round and the opportunity to interact personally with the finalists excites me.