Devastating fires across Australia and California. Persistent drought elsewhere in the Americas. Record flooding in Europe, Asia and Africa. A heatwave, of all things, in Greenland.
Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season.
Seas are warming and rising faster, putting more cities at risk of tidal flooding or worse. Glaciers are melting at a pace many researchers did not expect for decades. The amount of Arctic sea ice has declined so rapidly that the region may see ice-free summers by the 2030s, according to New York Times.
Even the ground itself is warming faster. Permanently frozen ground, or permafrost, is thawing more rapidly, threatening the release of large amounts of long-stored carbon that could in turn make warming even worse, in what scientists call a climate feedback loop.
Climate research has shown that poor people in tropical countries are most vulnerable to economic loss caused by global warming.
Tackling climate change and establishing net-zero emissions is no longer a debate but an absolute necessity.
That’s why at Davos this month, the World Economic Forum is set to address how businesses and governments can make this a reality and educate the wider community on the benefits that can be realised.
WEF says it believes it will be good for business, too. A green future will unlock new markets and prospects for businesses globally, high-skilled jobs in dynamic new industries for the workforce, and cleaner air and healthier lifestyles for citizens.
A recent study by the European Investment Bank (EIB) revealed almost half of all Europeans feared climate change more than losing a job.
The EIB survey of 30,000 respondents from 30 countries showed 47% of Europeans saw climate change as the number one threat in their lives, above unemployment, large scale migration and concerns about terrorism.
“Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation, which last month issued its annual state of the global climate report, concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat. “It’s more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation.”
But reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change will require drastic measures, Dr Taalas said.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, countries that aggressively prepare for climate impacts like hurricanes and heatwaves will fare drastically better financially than others with similar economies.
Wealth alone will not shield economies from the impact of climate change, researchers have said, urging governments to build flood defences and early warning systems to stem financial losses, WEF said in an article published in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust.
Businesses need to take responsibility for their climate impact. Embracing a greener future will unlock new business opportunities. An integrated, nature-based approach is the best way forward.
We are entering the decade of climate action. It will be a crucial time for humanity and at Davos; this issue has clearly taken its rightful place – at the centre stage on the World Economic Forum’s agenda.
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