Heat-waves and other weather extremes which now occur once in hundreds of years will become the new normal as the planet warms further, according to a major scientific report released by the World Bank Group.
Climate change will create a world of increased risks and instability, says the report, the third in the Turn Down the Heat series created for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.
The report says the consequences of climate change are severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk.
Climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable because the Earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, the report said.
Even very ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change this, it said.
“Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.
“We’re already seeing record-breaking temperatures occurring more frequently, rainfall increasing in intensity in some places, and drought-prone regions like the Mediterranean becoming drier.”
The World Bank asked the scientists to look at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, cities and ecosystems across Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia.
Dr Kim, President of the World Bank, called the findings “alarming”.
“These changes make it more difficult to reduce poverty and put in jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of people,” Kim said.
“They also have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.”
For Australia, there will be more toward more extreme El Niño events when heat is released from the ocean, causing severe weather events including flooding, storms and drought.
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