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Globe Risks ‘Cataclysmic Changes’ From Warming, World Bank Says

The globe risks “cataclysmic changes” caused by extreme heatwaves, rising seas and depleted food stocks as it heads toward global warming of 4 degrees Celsius this century, according to a World Bank report.

Current national pledges to reduce greenhouse gases won’t do much to change the current trajectory of temperatures, which are set to rise by about double the United Nations target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the scientific study e-mailed by the World Bank shows today.

That level of warming threatens to cause sea levels to rise by a meter (3 feet) or more by 2100, flooding cities in nations from Mexico to Mozambique and the Philippines, according to the study. It could also start dissolving coral reefs from 2060, deplete crop yields in India, the U.S. and Australia, and exacerbate heatwaves worldwide.

“A 4-degree Celsius (warmer) world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in the report. It “can, and must, be avoided.”

Envoys from almost 200 nations will gather in Doha next week for talks to lay the groundwork for a new treaty to fight climate change to be reached by 2015 and come into force by 2020. The discussions also aim to establish a new set of targets under the current emissions-limiting treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, to enter force from next year.

Kim, who took over the World Bank’s helm in July, has put climate change at the forefront of his agenda, bringing it up at a Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers in Mexico City this month in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

“The World Bank has gone back to being in charge of climate change,” Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco told reporters in Mexico. “For a certain period from 2001, it had stopped.”

Today’s report was prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Climate Analytics, also based in Potsdam.

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