A new report from the World Bank concluding that a warmer world will ‘keep millions of people trapped in poverty’ provides a further wake-up call to the international community which is still not doing enough to confront now-inevitable humanitarian impacts of climate change.
Food shortages in Sub-Saharan Africa; shifting rain patterns in South Asia, leaving some areas underwater and others with too little; loss of reefs in South-East Asia, making coastal communities vulnerable to increasingly violent storms are but a few of the likely effects of a possible global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius in the next few decades the World Bank says.
Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience looks at the probable impact of both 2°C and 4°C warming on agriculture, water resources, coasts and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia.
The Bank has already cited scientists who believe the world will warm by 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.
The World Bank Group says it is stepping up its ‘mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work,’ and is looking at all its business through a climate lens.
Walter Cotte, Under Secretary General for Programme Services Division at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said the new report once more highlights the importance of preparing now for a future certain only to be hazardous. “The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has made huge strides toward fully embracing the vital climate issue over the past decade,” he said.
“As part of our Strategy 2020, we too are taking a twin-track approach, incorporating climate mitigation – advocating reduced carbon emissions and cutting back our own footprint – and adaptation, supporting community resilience and climate-proofing our operations. Using our National Red Cross Red Crescent network in all regions of the world we are working to confront the humanitarian and developmental consequences of changing climate through the creation of a coherent, inclusive and participatory approach as part of our subsidiary role with national governments supporting their National Adaptation Plans.”
Dr Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that we are already living in a changed climate. “Funding to help developing countries adapt to climate change is starting to flow,” he said. “But it tends to be re-purposed development assistance funding, and isn’t anything like enough.”
Since the IPCC report on extreme weather and disasters two years ago – SREX – there have been at least two events that exactly fit the ‘general pattern of rising risk’ predicted by climate scientists, Dr Van Aalst believes.
“One was Typhoon Bopha that hit Mindanao in the Philippines last year; another is the devastating flood, linked mainly to intense rainfall, that swept across Central Europe earlier this month,” he said.
“Neither of these ‘hydrometeorological’ disasters is directly attributable to climate change – no single disaster ever is – but they certainly fit the pattern of rising risks in a changing climate.”
Typhoon Bopha caused massive destruction on the island of Mindanao; and left nearly 2,000 people missing or dead.
Among other rehabilitation work, the Philippine Red Cross this month began to help 2,500 people affected by these disasters to build sturdier homes better able to resist typhoons.
The IFRC’s emergency appeal for 16.2 million Swiss francs (€13.2m) on behalf of the Philippine Red Cross, however, remains only 44 per cent funded by donors.
Turn Down the Heat is an analysis of how the latest climate science and the impacts it forecasts will bear on development progress. The full IPCC report on the global climate, its fifth, will be released in stages starting later this year.