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Environmental Research Digest – December 2012


World Bank released a study illustrating the likely impacts that would be associated with a 4° Celsius warming within this century. “Turn Down the Heat” is a rigorous attempt to outline a range of risks, focusing on developing countries and especially the poor.

Key findings

  • Planet is set for four degrees of warming by end of the century without radical decoupling of growth and carbon.
  • Failure to act on climate change has sent the planet "barrelling down a path" to flooded cities, intense storms, heat waves, and food and water shortages.
  • Such a desperate scenario can still be avoided through the smarter use of energy and resources, if only governments are prepared to be more "aggressive" in tackling climate change.
  • Global mean temperatures are now about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels and are set to be 4°Celsius warmer by end of this century.
  • This is double the 2°C mark most scientists agree will herald the worst effects of climate change and the report notes many climate change impacts have already started to emerge.
  • It warns that even if current greenhouse gas emissions pledges are met, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on rising temperatures, leading to already parched regions becoming drier, the inundation of wet and low-lying areas, and disrupted food, water, and energy supplies.
  • The bank calls for the more than $1tr of worldwide fossil fuel and "other harmful" subsidies to be put to better use, and also advocates the introduction of a measure for the value of natural capital that can be integrated into national accounts.
  • Expanding public and private investment in green infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather impacts, low carbon transport systems, and improved energy efficiency in buildings are also options recommended by the bank.


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) & Climate Analytics with World Bank


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