‘Failure to mitigate climate change’ and Failure of climate change adaptation’ are the two biggest risks facing the world according to The Global Risks Report 2023 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 12, 2023. The WEF’s meeting titled Cooperation in a Fragmented World will be held from January 16-20, 2023 at the Swiss resort of Davos. The other two major risks include :
Natural disasters and extreme weather events
Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
By 2033, the interconnections between biodiversity loss, pollution, natural resource consumption, climate change and socioeconomic drivers will make for a dangerous mix.
Currently, the pandemic and Ukraine invasion has been held responsible for the energy, inflation and food crises. In fact, ‘cost of living’ ranks as the top most serious global risk in the short term.
The impact of natural disasters or extreme weather events disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries, especially developing coastal countries across Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia including India.
In 10 countries, (Show Barbados, Guatemala, Philippines, China, Honduras, Japan, Oman, Ecuador, Jamaica, New Zealand) natural disasters and extreme weather events were perceived to be the top most severe risk in the short term or in the next two years, according to the report.
India recorded *extreme weather events on 291 of the 334 days between January 1 and November 30, 2022 (87% of the time over 11 months).
*According to India’s Atlas On Weather Disasters prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment and Down To Earth (CSE/DTE).
“Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have led to an increased frequency and / or intensity of some weather and climate extremes since pre-industrial times,” the IPCC assessment had said in 2021.
Today, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have all reached record highs. Emission trajectories make it very unlikely that global ambitions to limit warming to 1.5°C will be achieved which makes ‘Failure to mitigate climate change’ among the most severe threats in the short term too.
‘Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse’ has not been perceived to be of concern over the short term. It has been ranked as the fourth most severe risk in the long term or over the next ten years (by 2033).
The adaptation support required for countries affected by the impacts of climate change too will be insufficient, which may include the commitments under the loss and damage agreement at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh to provide funding for vulnerable countries.
The 18th edition of the WEF annual report advocates for political will and cooperation among global leaders to address “climate and human development”.
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