New climate “normal”-its no longer negotiable

A newly published World Bank report entitled “Turn down the heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal” has made plain the reality of “the new normal” under climate change, and sorry, its no longer negotiable.

The report focuses on the risks that climate change poses in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, some parts of Europe and Central Asia, and builds on the scientific analysis of previous work. It complements the first “Turn down the heat” report published in 2012 that reviewed the global outlook under a 4°C warming scenario and concluded that the impacts will be disproportionately realised in developing countries in the equatorial regions.


It examines the impacts of climate change on agricultural production, water resources, ecosystems and coastal vulnerability under the present day warming scenario (0.8°C) and an additional 2°C and 4°C scenario. It also considers social vulnerability that could either magnify or moderate the climate change repercussions for human survival. The analysis builds on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report Working Group reports released in 2013 and 2014 and peer reviewed literature.

Data presented in the report showed that perhaps unsurprisingly, dramatic climatic changes, heat and weather extremes are already impacting people, damaging crops, eroding coastlines and putting food, water and energy security at increased risk. Across the three regions, record breaking temperatures are more frequent, rainfall intensity has increased in some locations and drought prone regions are becoming drier.


According to the report, there is growing evidence that even with vigorous action, 1.5°C warming will be locked in by the middle of this century, and extreme heat events may be unavoidable. If warming reaches 4°C, heat and other weather extremes previously considered unusual would become the new standard, a world in which higher risk and instability would play significant roles. Crop yields would decline, water resources would be severely impacted, diseases will move into new regions and sea levels will rise.


In a world under a 2°C warming scenario, human development, ending poverty, raising global prosperity and reducing inequality will be very challenging, however under a 4°C there is doubt as to whether any of these could be achieved. Immediate action is needed to assist countries to adapt to today’s climate change impacts and the inevitable consequences. The benefits of strong early action that follows a low carbon pathway far outweighs the costs but the time to act rather than talk is now.

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