The world could see a ‘cascade of cataclysmic changes’ by the end of the century if we fail to reduce global warming significantly, according to the World Bank.
The organization has released a new report summarizing a range of the direct and indirect climatic consequences under the current global path for greenhouse gas emissions, taking a look at the potential impacts if the world’s temperature increases by 4 degrees by the end of the century.
The report finds that all regions of the world will suffer if this happens – some more than others – but that the poor will suffer the most.
Key impacts include:
Extreme heat waves
- Heat waves which, without global warming, would be expected to occur once in several hundred years, would be experienced during almost all summer months in many regions.
- The effects would not be evenly distributed.
- The largest warming would be expected to occur over land and range from 4° C to 10° C. Increases of 6° C or more in average monthly summer temperatures would be expected in the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and parts of the United States.
Rising sea levels
- A rise by 0.5 to 1 meter by 2100 is likely, with higher levels also possible.
- Some of the most highly vulnerable cities are located in Mozambique, Madagascar, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Displacement of populations
- Agriculture, water resources, human health, biodiversity and ecosystem services are likely to be severely impacted. This could lead to large-scale displacement of populations and consequences for human security and economic and trade systems.
- Many small islands may not be able to sustain their populations.
- The most vulnerable regions are in the tropics, sub-tropics and towards the poles, where multiple impacts are likely to come together.
The report states that the science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed. The global mean temperature has continued to increase and is now about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
The president of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, said: “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”
Earlier this month, PwC released its own research into climate change, revealing that the world could, in fact, be facing six degrees of warming by the end of the century. Click here to read it.