Climate change: A worrying reality

The World Bank (WB) recently agreed to boost its spending on climate change to 35% from 28%, while introducing a roadmap to help developing nations meet their Paris climate accord targets.

Smoke rises from a factory in the UK, February 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
Smoke rises from a factory in the UK, February 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

In the face of warnings about the consequences of climate change being at an unprecedented level, more than ever, actions to prevent global warming need to be accelerated.

Scientists have repeatedly rung the alarm bell about the worrying status of climate change. A draft report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the climate change adaptability of many ecosystems on Earth is about to surpass their threshold. If global temperatures increase by two degrees Celsius, about 15% of the permafrost is at risk of “evaporating” by 2100, creating 36 to 67 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, and this vicious cycle will cause the Earth to heat up even more. The area of Arctic sea ice is now half what it was 10 years ago.

Alarming numbers about ecosystems and the environment have been released, whereby the extinction rate is estimated to be 1,000 times higher than the level of the last century. If global temperatures rise by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, about 54% of marine and terrestrial species are at risk of extinction this century.

Climate change is causing a shrinkage in the yield of large crops, which is expected to go on throughout the 21st century and increase the pressure on populous and poor countries. An additional 80 million people are estimated to be at risk of poverty by 2050. Without emission reductions, more than 85 million sub-Saharan Africans will be displaced by climate change by 2050.

In Asia, the number of people forced to flee their homes due to the impacts of climate change will increase six-fold between 2020 and 2050. About 170 million people worldwide will be affected by extreme drought if the Earth warms up by 3 degrees Celsius. With such a temperature rise, the number of people at high risk of death in Europe will triple.

Climate change is at a critical level and developed countries, including the United States and the European Union (EU), are trying to take the lead in combating climate change. The European Parliament (EP) has approved a landmark bill to make the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets legally binding, paving the way for policy reforms to reduce CO2 emissions in a faster fashion.

Climate issues have become the focus of every programme of the WB, showing that financial institutions are getting “involved” more strongly.

In acting to protect the planet, major economies need to step up their CO2 reductions as well as their support for developing economies with enough resources to cut emissions. This action is borderless and works towards the common goal of fighting climate change.