A Simple Choice - 4°C or a Carbon Price

21/11/2012 10:37 | Updated 19 January 2013

As if following on deliberately from the PWC report which I wrote about last week, come two new initiatives announced this Monday.

The first is a report from the World Bank and is the flip side of the PWC finding that a 2°C goal is now effectively out of reach. Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoidedhas been commissioned by the Climate Change Adaptation team at the World Bank, utilising the expertise of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Starting with the impacts that we are already seeing in a 0.8°C world, it looks at the unsettling prospects of a 2°C world and then the somewhat alarming implications of letting the climate issue slide and all of us wandering, eyes wide open, into a 4°C world.

The report is measured in its approach, not relying on histrionics to gets its message across. Rather, by stepping through the issue in terms of areas of concern against current observations, 2°C and 4°C impacts it gives the reader clarity in terms of where we are now, the political space currently targeted and the expected consequences in the medium term of not acting. The report also notes that impacts such as sea level rise will play out over many hundred of years, causing ongoing disruption over that period. A wealth of data is presented from a variety of sources, covering concerns such as ocean acidification, ice loss (sea level rise), extreme temperature events, agricultural impacts, water stress, disease vectors, non-linear change and changes to critical eco-systems.

The President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim sums up the issue very clearly in his forward:

We are well aware of the uncertainty that surrounds these scenarios and we know that different scholars and studies sometimes disagree on the degree of risk. But the fact that such scenarios cannot be discarded is sufficient to justify strengthening current climate change policies. Finding ways to avoid that scenario is vital for the health and welfare of communities around the world. While every region of the world will be affected, the poor and most vulnerable would be hit hardest. A 4°C world can, and must, be avoided.