Rising sea levels, warming temperatures, and changes in weather patterns are already affecting millions of people, and the impact is especially severe for those living in developing countries, threatening their potential to move out of poverty.
So, over the last 100 years, we had seen the Earth warm about 0.6 degrees Celsius, 1 degree Fahrenheit. We have seen precipitation patterns change throughout the world, some places becoming wetter, some drier. We have seen the sea level increase 10 to 25 centimeters. We have seen glaciers melt throughout the world. So, fundamentally, human activities of burning coal, oil, and gas, and deforesting our world, has caused a change in the earth's climate.
The gases that cause a loss of ozone are human-made gases that contain chlorine and bromine, chlorofluorocarbons and halons. When they rise into the upper atmosphere, they break apart, and they form what we call atoms and free radicals that directly destroy the ozone layer. The world recognized this to be a major problem in the 1980s, and therefore governments, working with industry, working with the scientific community, and the nongovernmental organizations, got together and over a period of years in the 1980s and the 1990s, there was an international agreement to ban all of what we called the long-lived chlorine and bromine compounds that destroyed stratospheric ozone. This is one of the real success stories where the scientific community, working with governments and with industry, led to the ban of a chemical that was causing a major problem.
Secondly, the glaciers on mountains, when they melt, also add to sea level rise.
And thirdly, land ice in Greenland and Antarctica, when it melts, would also lead to an increase in sea level. If it is just icebergs, melting the icebergs or any other sea ice as in the Arctic would not increase sea level because, as you say, the volume, indeed, is the same. And so, fundamentally, sea level increases due to thermal expansion of the ocean, melting of mountain glaciers, and melting of land ice in Greenland and Antarctica.
We have also seen, as I noted earlier, changes in precipitation and sea level. The key question is whether the observed warming is due to human activities or whether it could be ascribed to natural phenomena. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its last major report, said that most of the observed warming was, indeed, due to human activities. The emissions of the greenhouse gases.
Therefore, the large majority of scientists do believe the Earth's climate is warming, and do believe that human activities are primarily responsible.
Now, the second half of the question is what is the concern, what are the impacts.
The concerns are that in most parts of the world, especially in the tropics and subtropics, where most of the developing countries are, there will be adverse effects on water, energy, human health, agriculture, and biodiversity. We believe that a change in the Earth's climate will adversely affect water in the arid and semi-arid areas. That is to say most of the arid and semi-arid areas will become drier. We believe that climate change could have adverse effects on the stability or the reliability of hydropower, which is the key energy source for many developing countries.
Climate change is also projected to change human health. An increase in vector-borne diseases such as malaria and water-borne diseases such as cholera. An increase in the number of people that would die due to heat stress, and also an increase in the number of people that would be malnourished due to a reduction in agricultural production throughout the tropics and subtropics.
And we also believe there would be effects on biological diversity. We have already seen a change in the biological system. We have seen species move up in mountains, so they go up in altitude, and move towards the poles. We have seen changes in bird migration patterns and the mating habits of birds.
We have also seen increased incidence of mortality in many coral reef systems.
So, we believe many ecological systems and many species are susceptible to a change in the Earth's climate, and the species that are most vulnerable as those in alpine systems, in systems of high latitudes, and in coral reef systems.
So, the wobble of the Earth's axis is largely the cause for the onset of ice ages in the past.
So, we are trying to do energy sector reform of subsidies and externalities. That will therefore give a better playing field, a more level playing field, for cleaner technologies such as renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind power, geothermal power, and hydropower. It will also encourage people for energy efficient technologies in transportation, buildings, and industry sector.
So we are trying to be more aggressive and have more lending for renewable energy technologies, more lending for energy efficiency technologies. We are doing this largely by not only doing energy sector reform, but also by using the grant facilities of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Many renewable energies are more expensive than fossil fuel energies, and therefore we are trying to make sure that developing countries don't have to pay the extra costs of renewable energy, and therefore we also are accessing grant resources to buy down the extra costs from the Global Environment Facility.
In addition, we do have an international convention, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It has a protocol called the Kyoto Protocol, and in that it recognizes that developed or stream used countries have admitted to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.
They also recognized in the protocol that quite often it is cheaper to reduce emissions in developing countries than it is in industrialized countries. It's called carbon trading. So, The World Bank is a leader in trying to make the carbon market work. What this will allow to happen is for clean technologies to get to developing countries without developing countries having to pay more for their energy.
So, the way we are trying to green the power sector is energy sector reform, more renewables, more efficient use of energy, and by using the Global Environment Facility, and the so-called emerging international carbon market.
The African nations are using the lowest level of energy (fossil fuel)in the world and they want to replicate development path of the developed nations.
Dont you think that the development policy favoured by the World bank should be changed toward a less using economy, both in the production process and in the consumption exercise? Activities such as agroforest should be well remunerated to account for its nenefits as a public good? What is the relevancy of the climate change to Africa nations, should they adopt the kind of Kyoto protocol since without their participation, every negotiation would be doomed?
So, we need to get efficient stoves, and we need access to energy, electricity. Clearly it would be best if the electricity were to come from a modern form of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and micro-hydro. But it is also clear that some of this energy has to come from burning of fossil fuels, it is a high priority insofar as we must reduce the mortality due to indoor air pollution.
At the moment, the whole of the African continent only emits 4 percent of the total global emissions of greenhouse gases. Clearly, Africa is not the problem with respect to climate change. What is a challenge for Africa is to adapt to climate challenge. It is probably one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to climate change. Most of its agricultural productivity will decrease. It will see an increase in vector-borne diseases. Some of the coastal areas will be susceptible to sea level rise. Many of the arid and semi-arid areas will become drier.
So, one of the challenges that we have is how to help African countries become less vulnerable to natural climate variability, and also to be less vulnerable to human-induced climate change. In other words, we need to integrate climate variability and climate change considerations into national economic development strategies and into sectoral strategies of water, agriculture, human health, and coastal zone management.
So, the big challenge at the moment is not to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in Africa. The two challenges are to get access to modern energy and also to adapt to climate change. Activities such as agroforestry can be extremely beneficial insofar as if they're well done, they would provide rural income, but they could also sequester carbon into the soils and carbon into the trees, and that could help to lessen the magnitude of human-induced climate change.
I think there is a mixed record for governments and for industry. Let me focus on climate change. Europe, Canada, and Japan have all ratified the Kyoto Protocol. The USA and Australia have said they won't, and there are mixed signals from Russia, although recently President Putin did agree with European leaders that Russia would ratify the Kyoto Protocol. So Europe, Canada, and Japan are showing political will and political leadership on the issue of climate change.
Now, the Kyoto Protocol is only one small step in a very long journey to eventually stabilize the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, but it is a very important first step.
There are also 50 to 60 large multinational private sector companies such as Shell, British Petroleum, Toyota, DuPont, Rio Tinto, AB&B, who have also committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, recently the chairman of Shell said that climate change was a very urgent issue, as have heads of other major companies. These companies have all voluntarily said they will reduce their emissions anywhere between five and 10 percent by the commitment period that is 2010 relative to 1990.
So, we are seeing leadership by some countries, and we are seeing leadership by some private sector companies, but we do need other countries and others in the private sector to also show political will and agree they must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol is only the first step towards protecting the climate, and so even the proactive countries such as those in Europe, Canada, and Japan will need to go further, much more than their initial obligations, and clearly we have to hope that they will be willing for a substantial cut in greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.
The British government has committed to reducing their emissions by 60 percent by 2050. It is this type of leadership that we need to see throughout the world. And so, while there is a lack of leadership in some parts of the world, we do see leadership in other parts of the world.
We have to recognize that many industrialized countries, those in Europe, North America, had large scale deforestation over the last 200 to 300 years, so we have to recognize that we in the rich OECD countries deforested, and we now have to work with countries such as Brazil, the Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, in order to try to protect their pristine forests.
We do have some grant resources through the Global Environmental Facility to help protect the forests. The emerging carbon market under the Kyoto Protocol and the clean development mechanism will also provide a mechanism hopefully in future years, not for the beginning of the first commitment period, to also help protect the world's forests. The NGOs are putting significant amounts of money into foundations to stopping deforestation.
But we have to demonstrate that the forests are more valuable standing than they are cut down. We have to demonstrate that the forests produce very critical ecological goods and services. They protect our watersheds. They help to control air quality. They help to control the Earth's climate.
So we have to demonstrate that the forests, both the tropical and temperate forests and the mangroves, which help protect lands from storm surges, have real value. So we have to be able to create markets for ecological services and that's a real new area where there is a lot of work, trying to show that protecting our forests is economically viable.
So the challenge now then is to slow down the deforestation, in that we should only be harvesting wood sustainably. We should use grant resources where possible to help developing countries protect their very valuable resources, and we should try and create markets for ecological goods and services. And so this combination of approaches hopefully will lead to a slowing down of deforestation and hopefully over the next 10 years or so may almost be a complete halt to deforestation.
Many governments around the world, including Brazil, have committed themselves to at least protecting 10 percent to 15 percent of their forest systems in protected areas, but we need to go even further than that if we really want to protect this very, very important heritage.
So, developing countries with large emissions should have some responsibility, although differentiated and different from the industrialized world, and they need financial help to meet those obligations.
But for many countries, especially in Africa and small countries in Asia and Latin America, clearly the challenge of the day is, indeed, adaptation, adapting to current climate variability and climate change.
So, it's a mixed bag of both mitigation and adaptation, but for very small countries that do not currently emit greenhouse gas emissions significantly, the challenge will be to adapt to climate change.
Climate change is projected to threaten natural resources such as food, such as water. It's also projected to displace tens of millions of people due to sea level rise in small island states and low-lying delta areas in Asia, Africa, and parts of Latin America.
Displacing tens of millions of people, threatening water supply and food supplies will clearly lead to local unrest and regional conflict. Hence, climate change should be taken seriously as a regional and human security issue.
The role of the World Bank in this is, of course, clearly to make sure people understand the importance of the threat of climate change to human security, national and regional security, and to assist our client countries to adapt to climate change to reduce this threat.
According to the media, a recent report from the IEA suggests a 15,6 per cent rise in global consumption of oil by 2010. It is expected to rise even further in the years to come.
Is such a level of oil consumption at all sustainable? Is it possible to combine such a comsumption with a determined effort to combat climate change?
There is absolutely no doubt if we continue to rely on cars and motorbikes, the demand for oil will continue to increase at an ever increasing rate because economic growth and demographic changes in developing countries, as well as industrialized countries.
Therefore, one of the challenges is to make the transportation sector much more efficient. We need to have more efficient cars and lorries. We basically need to more toward a system that is not reliant just on gasoline-powered combustion engines.
So, hybrid cars, moving to fuel cell cars, is a very high priority. But we could also do land use planning and encourage mass transportation.
So, the challenge of reducing the reliance on cars, individual cars, is land use planning, mass transportation, and also making cars more efficient. Instead of averaging 25 miles per gallon, we need to go to 50. Then we need to go to 75, and eventually we need to go to cars that don't pollute at all, either local pollutants or greenhouse gases.
So we do need to combine the challenge of combating climate challenge with the challenge of making our transportation systems more effective.
Many cities around the world already have major problems of traffic congestion, so we also need to deal with the issue of traffic congestion that once again brings in the issue of land use planning and mass transit.
So, all these things go together, so the global challenge is to reduce traffic congestion, reduce local pollution from transportation, and reduce greenhouse gases, and this requires a combination of land use planning, mass transit, and basically turning our cars into cars that don't just rely on the combustion of fossil fuels, that is to say, oil.
There is also no question that human-induced climate change will threaten food security. It will threaten it directly by increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation which will decrease the production of agriculture throughout the tropics and subtropics.
It will also increase the pest regime that could have adverse effects on agricultural production, and it will also have adverse effects on water supply in general which could mean less irrigation in certain parts of the world.
So combining the challenge of food security and climate change is very important. There are other threats to agricultural production - there could actually be less quality land in many parts of the world due to land degradation. There could be less agricultural labor due to the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
So this issue is a very high priority. The World Bank, in combination with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Development Program, and UNESCO, with the blessing of Kofi Annan, is planning to stimulate an international assessment on the role of agricultural science and technology in feeding the world, stimulating the livelihoods of the poor, stimulating economic growth, all in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.
So we are trying to get an international assessment started later this year that will look very carefully at the whole issue of food security, what the challenges to food security are, including the issue of water resources and the issue of climate change.
And the cost of the Kyoto Protocol, while controversial, in many people's minds is not that significant. We believe that you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of between $14 per ton of carbon avoided and $135 per ton of carbon avoided.
What does this mean in real terms? Well, $20 per ton of carbon avoided is the equivalent of five cents on gasoline, so, in other words, if it was to cost us $20 a ton to avoid carbon emissions, our price of gasoline would go up five cents. If it did cost as much as a hundred dollars per ton of carbon, it would go up 25 cents. At the moment, there is an international market for carbon, and it's trading at $20 per ton of carbon, five cents a gallon on gasoline. This is a relatively modest amount to start to ensure that we are taking the first steps to protect the climate system, to avoid some of the adverse effects on human health, the adverse effects on water, the adverse effects on agriculture.
So, while Lomborg is correct in identifying key development priorities of education, water, healthcare, and sanitation, we should not make it an either/or choice. We should deal with climate variability and climate change at the same time that we deal with education, water, and these other key development issues.
I would suggest that India and China should possibly become members of the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol; that is the second commitment period between 2012 and 2016. But that assumes that all industrialized countries have taken on real obligations. That is, not only Europe, Japan, Canada, but also the United States and the Russian Federation.
So, assuming that the U.S. and assuming that Russia do come on board the Kyoto Protocol in the near future, then in the second commitment period I believe it would be appropriate for India and China to become legally binding parties, but clearly their responsibilities would not necessarily be the same as the industrialized countries, and, indeed, there would need to be financial mechanisms to assist them to meet their obligations.
India and China have many, many poor people. Access to cheap but at the same time ecologically friendly energy is absolutely crucial. So, I would argue India and China should become members in the second commitment period, but there would need to be differentiated responsibilities and the industrialized world would have to assist them in meeting those obligations.
There is also no doubt that the first steps to reach the Kyoto Protocol can be done as at a reasonable cost. That is to say, somewhere between $14 and $135 per ton of carbon avoided, as I mentioned in an earlier answer. Eventual stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations and the Earth's climate could also be done at a reasonable cost. And the IPCC concluded that over the next hundred years, the costs could be between $4 and $18 trillion to stabilize at 450 parts per million, significantly less if we want to stabilize at lower concentration. Only this would slow down the rate of growth of the world's economy by a few hundredths of a percent of the world's GDP. In other words, we can address climate change in a cost effective way, and we also have to recognize that while there are costs of action, there are costs of inaction. That is to say, there have been some estimates that, while uncertain, suggests that in a double CO-2 world where you would have about a 3-degree Celsius warming, there could be a loss of GDP in developing countries of 2 to 9 percent, and therefore it could be cheaper over the long run to mitigate climate change than to adapt to it.
Fundamentally, we have to do both.
Thank you for participating in the discussion. To learn more about climate change, and to access more information on the issues Bob Watson mentioned during the discussion, see:
- World Bank Climate Change site
- Climate Change Frequently Asked Questions
- Global Environment Facility (GEF)
- United Nations Framework on Climate Change
World Bank Climate Change site