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Turn Down the Heat : Confronting the New Climate Normal

2014-11-23, World Bank Group

This report focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia. Building on earlier Turn Down the Heat reports, this new scientific analysis examines the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming above pre-industrial temperatures on agricultural production, water resources, ecosystem services, and coastal vulnerability for affected populations. Data show that dramatic climate changes, heat, and weather extremes are already impacting people, damaging crops and coastlines, and putting food, water, and energy security at risk. Across the three regions studied in this report, record-breaking temperatures are occurring more frequently, rainfall has increased in intensity in some places, while drought-prone regions are getting dryer. The poor and underprivileged, as well as the elderly and children, are found to be hit the hardest. There is growing evidence that even with very ambitious mitigation action, warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century is already locked into the Earth’s atmospheric system, and climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable. If the planet continues warming to 4°C, climatic conditions, heat, and other weather extremes considered highly unusual or unprecedented today would become the new climate normal—a world of increased risks and instability. The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise. The task of promoting human development, ending poverty, increasing global prosperity, and reducing global inequality will be very challenging in a 2°C world, but in a 4°C world there is serious doubt whether this can be achieved at all. Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the climate impacts being felt today and the unavoidable consequences of a rapidly warming world. The benefits of strong, early action on climate change -- action that follows clean, low carbon pathways and avoids locking in unsustainable growth strategies -- far outweigh the costs. Many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming to below 2°C. But the time to act is now.

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Turn Down the Heat : Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience

2013-06-19, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics

A Report for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Analytics. This report focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia. Building on the 2012 report, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, this new scientific analysis examines the likely impacts of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, and coastal vulnerability. It finds many significant climate and development impacts are already being felt in some regions, and that as warming increases from present day (0.8°C) to 2°C and 4°C, multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea-level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods are expected to have further severe negative implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. The report finds that agricultural yields will be affected across the three regions, with repercussions for food security, economic growth, and poverty reduction. In addition, urban areas have been identified as new clusters of vulnerability with urban dwellers, particularly the urban poor, facing significant vulnerability to climate change. In Sub-Saharan Africa, under 3°C global warming, savannas are projected to decrease from their current levels to approximately one-seventh of total land area and threaten pastoral livelihoods. Under 4°C warming, total hyper-arid and arid areas are projected to expand by 10 percent. In South East Asia, under 2°C warming, heat extremes that are virtually absent today would cover nearly 60-70 percent of total land area in northern-hemisphere summer, adversely impacting ecosystems. Under 4°C warming, rural populations would face mounting pressures from sea-level rise, increased tropical cyclone intensity, storm surges, saltwater intrusions, and loss of marine ecosystem services. In South Asia, the potential sudden onset of disturbances to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures would put water and food resources at severe risk. Well before 2°C warming occurs, substantial reductions in the frequency of low snow years is projected to cause substantial reductions in dry season flow, threatening agriculture. Many of the worst climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C, but the window for action is closing rapidly. Urgent action is also needed to build resilience to a rapidly warming world that will pose significant risks to agriculture, water resources, coastal infrastructure, and human health.