The past month was full of climate-related stories in the media, including speeches by the Pope in Washington DC and New York, the joint China-US statement, and the announcement of China’s cap-and-trade scheme starting 2017.
We may still hear about differences of opinion on what is causing climate change and what needs to be done and by whom, but it is happening, and that efforts to resolve these differences are made in conventions and meetings, in houses of Congress, in media or public debate.
Turn Down the Heat
Scanning the Twittersphere for the hashtag #wbheat, you'll get an idea of how successful the World Bank's online course on climate change has been.
More than 10,000 people from around the world have already signed up for the World Bank Group’s first MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) on climate change, an initiative that appears to be tapping into a younger-than-usual audience than our e-courses usually get.
We’ve been excited to see this participant data because we know that for the world to effectively be able to address climate change, young people must be well-informed and engaged. We’re also pleased that most people who registered so far come from developing nations – and that many are joining an e-course for the first time.
The MOOC course, titled Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, is based on a recent research report with the same name that the Bank commissioned from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
The course kicks off Monday, January 27, and will be delivered on an online platform hosted by Coursera, an education company that partners with top universities and organizations to offer courses for free.
Bangkok is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, home to more than eight million people. However, a new report released by the World Bank today paints a grim picture for the Thai capital. It notes that, without adaptation, a predicted 15cm sea-level rise by the 2030s coupled with extreme rainfall events could inundate 40% of the Thai capital and almost 70% of Bangkok by the 2080s. While I certainly hope it doesn't happen, words cannot describe the impact this would have on the lives and livelihoods of people residing in this city. And Thailand isn’t the only country that could be affected by rising temperatures.
The report - Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience - was commissioned by the World Bank’s Global Expert Team on Climate Change Adaptation and prepared by a team of scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. It looks at the latest peer-reviewed science and with the aid of advanced computer simulations looks at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C, and 4°C warming across three regions – Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. It focuses on the lives and livelihoods of people in the developing world by analyzing the risks to agriculture and food security in sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, bleaching of coral reefs and their impact on coastal communities in South East Asia; and the impact of fluctuating rainfall patterns on food production in South Asia. The poor and the vulnerable are the ones that will be most affected by the impacts of climate change.
COP President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah gavels through the decision text. Photo courtesy IISD
The UN climate conference in Doha this past week kept the fight to combat global warming alive – 194 countries agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol and to put in place a new agreement by 2015. The extension avoids a major setback in climate negotiations, but it does not fully reflect the urgency of the problems facing the warming planet.
To understand the true scale of those problems, read the new report Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided. Its review of the latest climate science provides a powerful snapshot of what the future could be and warns that the world is on path to a 4°C (7.2°F) warmer world by century’s end if we don’t take action.
The report was referenced repeatedly during COP 18 and is one of several reports helping to put science at the center of policy making.
As is often the case in large international conferences these days, the greatest signs of momentum in Qatar were not inside the negotiating rooms but in the meeting halls where the informal process was underway. The World Bank played a key role in several agreements that will form a part of our ongoing commitment to step up to the climate challenge.
Increasingly like-minded coalitions are forming, across dividing lines of developed and developing countries, public, private sectors and civil society, in order to get on with the business of emissions reductions. One highlight of the conference was the meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a remarkable group of countries united to reduce SLCPs, short-lived climate pollutants - methane, HFCs, black carbon.
This week, negotiators from nearly 200 countries have gathered at the UN Climate Conference in Doha to try to hammer out an agreement on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Once again, the gathering of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change highlights the lack of action on climate change, and the subsequent threat to the prosperity of millions. Climate change may roll back decades of development.
Several reports in the last month have reached the same conclusion. First, the science is unequivocal: humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes can be observed today. Second, time for action is running out – if we don’t act, we could experience a 4°C warmer world this century, with catastrophic consequences.
The World Bank commissioned the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics to better understand the potential impact of a 4°C warmer world on developing countries. Turn Down the Heat provides a stark picture of the state of the planet in a 4°C warmer world and the disruptive impacts on agriculture, water resources, ecosystems and human health. It also gives a snapshot of changes already observed.
Global mean temperatures are about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels. Current greenhouse gas emission pledges place the world on a trajectory for warming of well over 3°C, even if the pledges are fully met.