The annual Global Risks Report, which incorporates the survey, highlighted several top risks for 2019, including massive incidents of data fraud and theft and large-scale cyber attacks. But the top risk by likelihood in the survey was extreme weather, in a survey of 1000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organisations.
And the risk that failure by governments to limit the magnitude of climate change and adapt to it has risen to second place in terms of both likelihood and impact, compared to only fifth place and fourth place in those categories last year in the survey.
“Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe,” said the report.
After 200 countries, including the US, agreed to tackle climate change at UN talks in Paris in 2015, worries in the survey about governmental failure to tackle global warming fell.
But that has changed after US President Donald Trump announced in 2017 his intention to pull out of the Paris agreement, a move he emphasised last year. In addition, deadly wildfires in Greece and California and hurricanes in Florida and North Carolina were frequently in the news.
“People are beginning to understand increasingly the gravity of the situation and that the Paris Agreement, even if fully implemented, cannot be seen as a panacea,” said Aengus Collins, the report’s author and project leader.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in October that global temperatures are likely to rise by 1.5ºC between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at its current pace and if the world fails to take rapid and unprecedented measures. And US emissions of carbon dioxide spiked 3.4percent last year after falling for the previous three, the Rhodium Group, an independent research group, said last week.
Trump, who attended last year’s talks in Davos, plans to send Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the talks that begin on January 22 as he grapples with Democrats over a partial government shutdown.
The report said rapidly growing coastal cities, particularly in Asia, are making people more vulnerable to climate change.Reuters