Have we lost the battle against climate change? - CNBC Africa

Have we lost the battle against climate change?

Special Report

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Climate change is already damaging crops and coastlines, putting food, water and energy security at risk. PHOTOS: Epa.gov/Getty Images

According to the World Bank’s third Turn Down the Heat report, record-breaking temperatures are occurring more frequently across the globe, causing an increase in rainfall in some places while drought prone regions are getting dryer.  

“In an overview of social vulnerability, the poor and underprivileged, as well as the elderly and children, are found to be often hit the hardest,” said the report.

“There is growing evidence, that even with very ambitious mitigation action, warming close to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C )above pre-industrial levels by mid-century is already locked-in to the Earth’s atmospheric system and climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable.”

(WATCH VIDEO: Humans: The cause of irreversible damage to the planet )

The data showed that if the planet continues warming to 4°C, the extreme climatic conditions experienced today will become the new climate norm, leading to a world of increased risks and instability.   

“The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources change, diseases move into new ranges, and sea levels rise,” continued the report.

“The task of promoting human development, of ending poverty, increasing global prosperity, and reducing global inequality will be very challenging in a 2°C world, but in a 4°C world there is serious doubt whether this can be achieved at all.”

(READ MORE: Climate change worsens food insecurity and diseases in Africa)

The Bank stated however that the worst projected climate impacts could still be prevented by keeping the earth’s temperature below 2°C.

Current warming is at 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels and 60 per cent higher than in 1990, growing at about 2.5 per cent per year. If carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue at this rate, the 2°C limit will be broken within just three decades.

Initiatives therefore need to be implemented urgently.

“Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the climate impacts being felt today and the unavoidable consequences of a rapidly warming world. The benefits of strong, early action on climate change, action that follows clean, low carbon pathways and avoids locking in unsustainable growth strategies, far outweigh the costs.”

(READ MORE: Data and measurement vital to ending poverty)