Climate change ‘devastating’

GLOBAL governments must dig deep to combat climate change, the World Bank (世界銀行 ) chief said last Thursday, describing it as a “fundamental threat” to development.

Jim Yong Kim (金墉) warned that governments “must act now” to limit global warming and finance policies that favour sustainable development, otherwise the impact would be “devastating”.

“Climate change is a fundamental threat to development in our lifetime,” Kim said in a video address to an environment conference in Hong Kong hosted by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (波茨坦氣候影響研究中心) – the first time the meeting has been held in Asia.

“This is the year when the international community can and must find ways to finance climate change interventions and development,” he said.

Kim warned of risks in Asia (亞洲) and the vulnerability of megacities, which are prevalent in the region.

“Sea-level rise of 15 centimetres coupled with more intense cyclones threatens to inundate much of Bangkok (曼谷) by the 2030s,” he said, reiterating research by the Potsdam Institute.

Kim added that the World Bank was working with China, which has overtaken the US as the greatest greenhouse gas emitter, and other governments in developing countries to promote sustainable growth.

“We can choose to build smart cities and require strong energy efficiency standards. We can invest in rapid transit systems and we can expand use of low carbon energy sources,” he said.

The Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability (諾貝爾獎得主全球可持續發展研討會) has previously been held in Europe and brings together experts and prize-winning scientists.

Governments in Asia should learn from past mistakes by nations that are now developed, said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (謝倫胡柏), director of the Potsdam Institute.

“Asia has a choice. We simply do not need to imitate the old way ... 200 years of dirty development,” he added.

“Hong Kong attaches great importance to combating climate change ... This is, of course, easier said than realised. But I am pleased to say that we are on track to achieving it,” said Chief Executive (行政長官) Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) in the opening address at the symposium last Thursday.

(AFP, 23 April, 2015)