Heating planet: World Bank says temperature rise cataclysmic


The Gulf region, source of much of the world’s oil, is likely to among the hardest hit by global warming, with already high summer temperatures soaring to 55 or 56 degrees – more than half the boiling point of water.

According to a new report released here yesterday by the World Bank, the impact of climate change will be “especially acute” in the Arab world and would “affect everyone everywhere” in the Middle East and North Africa, from Yemen to Morocco.

“It could be cataclysmic”, said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice-president for sustainable development. “Temperatures in the region have increased by 50 per cent, so we already have liveability issues. Imagine living in cities with temperatures of 55 or 56 degrees . . .”

The report, Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries, says “immediate action will be needed to avoid the projected consequences of worsening water shortages and rising food insecurity” due to desertification and the loss or arable land.

A harsher, more searingly hot climate would also threaten the region’s tourism industry, which the World Bank estimates to be worth $50 billion (€38 billion).

“Reducing vulnerability to climate change will require concerted action on multiple levels”, Kyte told a press briefing. “Political leadership now will be critical in establishing climate change as a national and regional priority” – which it clearly isn’t at the moment.

Inger Andersen, World Bank vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa, said poor people would suffer most because they were “least able to adapt” as the climate became “ever more extreme” and they would need “effective social safety nets”.

Last month, the World Bank published a major report called Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided.

The current target is to limit global warming to 2 degrees, although this is proving elusive as emissions continue to rise.