Degrees of devastation: major report warns of drastically hotter planet

Sydney Morning Herald, By Tom Arup, November 19

The World Bank has warned the planet is on track to warm by four degrees Celsius this century – causing increasingly extreme heat waves, lower crop yields and rising sea levels – unless significant action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In a major report released ahead of the year-end United Nations climate summit in Qatar, the bank says changes associated with four degrees of warming would have dramatic and devastating effects on all parts of the world, including Australia, but that the poor would be most vulnerable.

Scientists say global warming must be kept within two degrees of pre-industrial temperatures to give the world the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

The report – a snapshot of the most recent climate science prepared for the bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics – says global mean warming is now about 0.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
“A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation, with many of these risks spread unequally,” the report says.

World Bank: Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century

Update, November 26 – Truthdig: Stand Still for the Apocalypse, By Chris Hedges

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  • Why Does the World Bank Say it Cares About Climate Change, But Continue to Aggressively Push Coal?

    Climate Progress, By Stephen Lacy, March 5

    Kosovo, once host to a brutal ethnic war, is now the epicenter of a different kind of conflict — over the energy future of the impoverished country.

    The resolution of this conflict has enormous implications not just for Kosovo, but for other developing countries as well.

    At issue is a proposed 600-MW coal plant that would be financed through the World Bank. The plant, which was first proposed more than a decade ago, has become ground zero for environmental groups working to stop the international build-out of coal plants in less-developed countries.

    The World Bank plan is to take one of Kosovo’s old, extremely dirty coal plants offline and replace it with a new one. While the new plant would be more modern and less toxic than what is in place today, it would still burn lignite — the lowest-quality and most carbon-intensive form of coal.

    Via Think Progress: Shocking World Bank Climate Report: ‘A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided’ To Avert ‘Devastating’ Impacts

  • UN says carbon cuts too slow to curb dangerous warming

    A report by the UN says global attempts to curb emissions of CO2 are falling well short of what is needed to stem dangerous climate change.

    BBC, By Matt McGrath, November 21

    The UN’s Environment Programme says greenhouse gases are 14% above where they need to be in 2020 for temperature rises this century to remain below 2C.

    The authors say this target is still technically achievable.

    But the opportunity is likely to be lost without swift action by governments, they argue.

    Negotiators will meet in Doha, Qatar for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18) next week to resume talks aimed at securing a global deal on climate by 2015.

    The Emissions Gap Report 2012 has been compiled by 55 scientists from 20 countries. It says that without action greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will be the equivalent 58 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2020.

  • Climate Reports Forecast Dire Future, Even If Action Is Taken

    Huffington Post, By Tom Zeller, Jr., November 21

    In the absence of aggressive government policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, a number of leading organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank and others, have begun issuing analyses that regard potentially dangerous temperature elevations as not just a possibility should the status quo prevail, but a near certainty even if things start to change.

    The latest report, released Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program, suggested that greenhouse gas emissions levels are currently around 14 percent above where they need to be by the end of the decade in order to avoid what many analysts believe could be a risky level of planetary warming.


    So much so that PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global business consultancy, issued a report earlier this month that makes the 2-degree Celsius threshold appear quaint. That analysis, titled “Too Late for Two Degrees?,” suggested that while efforts to reduce the carbon intensity, or the amount of emissions per unit of GDP, of the world’s economies are making some modest gains, they are unfolding so slowly as to be negligible.

    “Even doubling our current rate of decarbonization, would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century,” noted Leo Johnson, a partner in PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change unit, in the report. “To give ourselves a more than 50 percent chance of avoiding 2 degrees will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonization.”

    The Foreword to Too Late for Two Degrees?:

    It’s time to plan for a warmer world. The annual Low Carbon Economy Index centres on one core statistic: the rate of change of global carbon intensity. This year we estimated that the required improvement in global carbon intensity to meet a 2°C warming target has risen to 5.1% a year, from now to 2050. We have passed a critical threshold – not once since World War 2 has the world achieved that rate of decarbonisation, but the task now confronting us is to achieve it for 39 consecutive years.

    The 2011 rate of improvement in carbon intensity was 0.7%, giving an average rate of decarbonisation of 0.8% a year since 2000. If the world continues to decarbonise at the rate since the turn of the millenium, there will be an emissions gap of approximately 12 GtCO2 by 2020, 30GtCO2 by 2030 and nearly 70GtCO2 by 2050, as compared to our 2-degree scenario. Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation, would still lead to emissions consistent with 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50% chance of avoiding 2 degrees will require a six-fold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation.

    In the emerging markets, where the E7 are now emitting more than the G7, improvements in carbon intensity have largely stalled, with strong GDP growth closely coupled with rapid emissions growth. Meanwhile the policy context for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear, critical technologies for low carbon energy generation, remains uncertain. Government support for renewable energy technologies is also being scaled back. As negotiators convene every year to attempt to agree a global deal, carbon emissions continue to rise in most parts of the world. Business leaders have been asking for clarity in political ambition on climate change. Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2°C, but 4°C, or even 6°C.

  • Reports Warn Europe Is Nearing Irreversible Threat From Catastrophic Climate Change

    RedOrbit, November 23

    A newly released report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) is warning that Europe is on the verge of catastrophic climate change if it does not act on commitments made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That report joins another from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stating that the cuts needed to curb global warming has widened as there is now one-fifth more carbon in the atmosphere than there was in 2000.

    The EEA announced in their report on Wednesday that the past decade was the warmest on record and continually rising temperatures could widen the gap between Europe’s rich and poor nations. This gap could deepen as poorer countries have struggled economically to cope with extreme natural disasters in recent years, according to the report.

    “When impacts of climate change affect regions with low adaptive capacity, the consequences can be severe,” the EEA report said. “An integrated assessment of European regions’ vulnerability to climate change suggests that (it) may negatively affect the territorial cohesion.”

    “Every indicator we have in terms of giving us an early warning of climate change and increasing vulnerability is giving us a very strong signal,” EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade, told Mark Kinver of BBC News. “It is across the board, it is not just global temperatures.”

  • Mankind must go green or die, says Prince Charles

    Environmental damage left unchecked would be ‘suicide on a grand scale’, Prince warns

    The Independent, By Jonathan Brown, November 23

    The Prince of Wales has warned that mankind is on the brink of “committing suicide on a grand scale” unless urgent progress is made in tackling green issues such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, intensive farming and resource depletion.

    Adopting uncharacteristically apocalyptic language, the Prince said the world was heading towards a “terrifying point of no return” and that future generations faced an “unimaginable future” on a toxic planet.

    In a pre-recorded speech broadcast in acceptance of an lifetime environmental achievement award, the Prince said green views that had once seen him written off as a “crank” were now backed by hard evidence.

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