Climate change is a fundamental threat to development and the fight against poverty. The World Bank Group is concerned that without bold action now, the warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development.
The science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed. Since the turn of the century (2000–2013), each year has ranked among the 15 warmest since record keeping began 134 years ago. The intensity of extreme weather-related events has also increased. Recent experience is a stark reminder that no country — rich or poor — is immune from the impacts of climate-related disasters today.
Turn Down the Heat, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the Word Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, says we are on a path to a 4°C (7.2°F) warmer world by the end of this century. The report provides a clear picture of the devastating impacts on agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, and human health. While every region will be affected, those least able to adapt — the poor and most vulnerable — would be hit hardest. A follow-up report, which focused on impacts of climate change on Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia, tells us that if the world warms by 2°C (3.6°F) — warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years — there will be widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense storms.
The World Bank Group believes a 4°C warmer world can and must be avoided. Immediate global action is needed to slow the growth in greenhouse gas emissions this decade and help countries prepare for a 2°C warmer world and adapt to changes that are already locked in.
At the Bank, we are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a climate lens.
Last Updated: May 14, 2014