World Economic Forum warns on climate risks

In preparation of its annual meeting in Davos, which will take place from 23 to 27 January, the World Economic Forum released this week the Global Risks Report 2013, which analyses the risks perceived as the most likely to manifest over the next 10 years. Based on an annual survey of over 1000 experts from industry, government and academia, the report considers a landscape of 50 global risks in terms of impact, likelihood and interconnections.

For the second year in a row, the risk of severe income disparity has been rated as having the highest impact and likelihood, However  the top five risks ranked in 2013 include the rising in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and water supply crisis  as respectively the third and the fourth most likely global risk. Based on these results, the report presents three major risk cases aimed at exploring the impact of the major risks and their interconnection at the global and national levels. In particular, the first case “Testing Economic and Environmental Resilience” highlights that tough economic conditions coupled with frequent extreme events represent “an increasingly dangerous mix” for the economic system. According to the report, at the moment the attention of world’s leaders is completely focused on the recovery of global economy. At the same time, however, the environmental system is coming under increasing stress. Future simultaneous shocks to both systems could led to the “perfect global storm”, with potentially insurmountable effects.

Finally, the report also explores a “X Factors” – emerging concerns, developed in partnership with the editors of Nature, which need more research. They include the runaway climate change and the deployment of geoengineering technologies.