Countries are reporting record outbreaks of the Omicron strain nearly two years after the first Covid-19 cases, “yet the pandemic pales in comparison to the long-term threats the globe confronts from climate change.”
That’s the consensus of almost 1,000 industry, government, and civil society professionals interviewed for the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, which was released last Tuesday and described by the WEF.
According to the study, the contributions announced at COP 26 fell short of the Paris objective of 1.5°C warming. “On the present trend, the globe is anticipated to warm by 2.4°C, with only the most optimistic scenarios limiting it to 1.8°C.”
On the report’s annual poll of attitudes, failed climate action, extreme weather, and lost biodiversity now rank first, second, and third, respectively, in a list of the top 10 global dangers over the next decade.
The following third on the list is societal dangers, which include infectious illnesses in sixth position, followed by “human environmental harm” and “natural resource crises.”
“Climate action failure is also regarded the most important threat to the globe in the medium term – up to five years – and over the decade, with the greatest potential to severely harm communities, economy, and the planet,” according to the WEF report.
“The majority of poll respondents felt too little is being done: 77% stated international efforts to prevent climate change have ‘not begun’ or are in ‘early development,'” the report continues.
“Widening disparities within and between countries will not only make it more difficult to control Covid-19 and its variants, but will also risk stalling, if not reversing, joint action against shared threats that the world cannot afford to overlook,” said WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi last week.
While COvid lockdowns reduced greenhouse gas emissions, “upward trajectories quickly resumed: the GHG emission rate climbed faster in 2020 than the average during the prior decade,” according to the report’s Chapter 2 – Disorderly Climate Transition.
The chapter emphasizes the difficult choice between continuing with carbon-intensive development and its costs on the one hand, and moving away from industries that employ millions of people on the other, risking economic instability, increased unemployment, and “societal and geopolitical tensions” on the other.
“There are still numerous unknown hazards from deploying experimental biotechnical and geoengineering solutions,” it states, “while a lack of public support for land-use changes or new pricing systems would generate political issues that will stall action even further.”
“A change that ignores sociological consequences would aggravate inequities inside and between nations, escalating geopolitical tensions.”
The Global Risks Report 2022, on the other hand, notes that the Covid pandemic has provided hopeful lessons for resilience, including recommendations for space collaboration, increased cyber resilience, and “a more sequenced climate change.”
Climate change is ranked first among 10 global risks in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, with a “disorderly climate transition” being the most catastrophic.(Image: WEF)