Jun 20, 2013

    Climate woes in our lifetime

    GLOBAL warming of 2 deg C threatens African food production and Asian water supplies "in our lifetime", the World Bank has said.

    That increase may be reached in 20 to 30 years, while a 50cm gain in sea levels may be "unavoidable" by 2050, the bank said yesterday in a report into how the poorest nations will be affected.

    The United Nations has proposed the goal of limiting global warming to 2 deg C from pre-industrial levels.

    Without measures to adapt to the changes, a 15cm jump in sea levels and intensified cyclones may flood much of Bangkok within two decades, it said.

    "In South-east Asia, the loss of coral reefs would reduce fish stocks, leave coastal communities and cities more vulnerable to increasingly-violent storms and landslides, and impact tourism," said Ms Rachel Kyte, a bank vice-president for sustainable development.

    "In South Asia, shifting rain patterns will leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or drinking."

    In sub-Saharan Africa, droughts and heatwaves will leave about 40 per cent of the land now used to grow maize unable to support the crop, the study said.

    It increases pressure on policymakers to cut greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for warming the planet as envoys from more than 190 nations work to craft a new climate treaty by 2015.

    The bank's spending to help nations adapt to the effects of climate change doubled last year to US$4.6 billion (S$5.8 billion).

    The report presents "an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead - what we could face in our lifetime", said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

    "The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2 deg C - warming that may be reached in 20 to 30 years - it will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heatwaves, and more-intense cyclones," he said in a statement

    In an update to the bank's "Turn Down the Heat" climate report, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate said there was evidence in the past seven months that previous projections for greenhouse-gas emissions had been too low.

    The study builds on the investigation released by the bank in November that said the planet is set to warm 4 deg C by 2100.