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Tackling climate at COP 18

December 15, 2012

During 2012, extreme weather events have wreaked havoc in many regions around the world, most recently with Superstorm Sandy, which resulted in loss of life and economic hardship, particularly in the poorer Caribbean states. As delegates gather in Doha, Qatar during November 26 to December 7 2012, for the next United Nations climate change summit (COP18) the urgency of taking action against climate change has never been more evident.

Sustaining the momentum gained in 2011 at COP 17 in Durban is crucial. The Durban 'deal' was to limit global average temperature increase to 2 C above pre-industrial levels, as a new round of negotiations to create a legally binding international agreement by 2015 was launched.
The risks from the global community failing to act on climate change are outlined in a hard-hitting scientific report recently published by the World Bank. 'Turn down the heat' highlights the dangers for a world that is warmer by 4C, including increased intensity of tropical cyclones and the inundation of coastal cities. Other grave concerns include increasing risks for food production, potentially leading to higher rates of undernutrition and malnutrition; many dry regions becoming drier and wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

As highlighted by other scientific reports, all regions of the world would suffer in a much warmer world but the World Bank report re-emphasises that the poor in developing countries would suffer the most. The report also notes that a 4C rise is not inevitable but that sustained policy action and early, cooperative, international actions will be required to keep the world from heating beyond a tipping point of no return. At Doha, during COP 18, it is hoped that the high level discussions can set the world on a new course, so that the worst effects of climate change - and the costs to so many - can be avoided.