The World Bank Group just released a groundbreaking new report on climate change, called Turn Down the Heat, which offers a vivid assessment of what 4 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise would mean for the world.

Following is a statement by Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute:

“This report should awaken world leaders out of their slumber on climate change. A 4 degree temperature rise would bring unimaginable costs to people and society. We must take the necessary actions now to stay within 2 degrees or lower of warming.

“The differences between 2 degrees and 4 degrees temperature rise are stark. It took little more than four degrees of cooling to create the Ice Age, so imagine the havoc 4 degrees of warming would create. While the impacts would be uneven around the globe, vulnerable countries and poor people would be hardest hit. Communities already facing economic hardship would face longer droughts and more intense monsoons that disrupt food supply, more diseases associated with warmer temperatures and more pests, and greater water scarcity.

“The World Bank is to be congratulated for raising the alarm on this issue. By doing so they are aligning themselves with the majority of scientific opinion on climate change. It's worth noting that the World Bank is a financial institution and not prone toward exaggeration. This report, therefore, must not be shrugged off. The World Bank itself can do more to raise ambition through its own financing, including by directing the great bulk of its energy investments toward scaling up renewable energy and energy efficiency. Further, the World Bank can channel more resources toward more projects that will enhance innovation and sustainability, as well as climate resilience.

“As negotiators head to Doha for the climate talks, they must bring a greater sense of urgency and purpose to these negotiations. A 4 degree warmer world can be prevented, but this will require greater leadership and imagination than has been shown to date. All negotiators should re-commit to keep the world within 2 degrees of warming. But we need more than UN negotiators to respond.

“Climate change is one of the great challenges of our generation, and we need to bring the full capacity of governments, businesses, multi-lateral institutions, and civil society to confront these challenges. Around the world, there are numerous examples of how the problem could be solved at low-cost and with high returns. We have no more excuses for inaction.

“The alarm bell on global warming is ringing. Let’s hope world leaders are listening.”


Dr. Steer previously worked as the World Bank Group’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.