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WEF Global Risk Report 2024

Climate change and nature loss ‘pose greatest risks for humanity’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Worried kangaroo in burnt forest after bushfires swept through during an Australian summer

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2024 counts extreme weather events and critical change to Earth systems as the greatest concerns facing the world over the next decade.

While misinformation and disinformation is seen as the biggest short-term risk over the next two years, environmental risks dominate over a 10-year period.

Two-thirds of global experts are worried about extreme weather events in 2024.

Top four risks

The report found the top four most severe risks over the next 10 years to be: extreme weather events, critical change to Earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and natural resource shortages.

Pollution also features within the top 10 most severe risks.

Concerningly, the report argues that cooperation on urgent global issues could be in increasingly short supply, underlining the importance of concerted action and collaboration to address the climate and nature emergencies. 

‘The interlinked crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are among the most severe risks the world has to contend with and cannot be tackled in isolation.

‘We’ve just lived through the  hottest year on record with lives and livelihoods devastated by searing heatwaves and catastrophic floods and storms.

‘Unless we take urgent action the threat is only set to intensify, pushing us closer to inflicting irreversible damage on society and ecosystems.’

Director general of WWF International

WWF is concerned that countries are not on track to meet their 2030 commitments under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Biodiversity targets

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework has a 2030 mission ‘to take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss to put nature on a path to recovery…’

Just over a year after its adoption, progress on delivering revised national biodiversity strategies (NBSAPs) and the necessary funding has been slow.

WWF is concerned that the pace and scale of action is failing to match the promise of the agreement, and has published a set of criteria for ambitious NBSAPs in The NBSAPs We Need. 

‘These findings come on top of the scathing recent analysis by the EU Environment Agency showing that the EU is in danger of missing most of its 2030 environmental policy targets.

‘Ahead of the EU elections, political parties must demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding our planet’s future and fulfil the promise of the European Green Deal.

‘This requires a fundamental redesign of our economy to more rapidly wean it off fossil fuels and make full use of healthy ecosystems as our strongest ally.

‘Only then can the EU guarantee the safety and wellbeing of its people and increase its autonomy and resilience.’

Director of the WWF European Policy Office

The Paris agreement

The Paris agreement has an overarching goal to hold ‘the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’ and pursue efforts ‘to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that to limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030.

While WWF welcomed the recent commitment at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels as a significant moment, it is clear that for a liveable planet we need to see a full phase out of all fossil fuels as well as much greater funding to help those in harm’s way.

‘By all working together to better protect and manage the Earth’s resources, we can turn the tide on nature loss and secure a brighter future for our planet, our common home.

‘Governments and businesses can make 2024 the year they restore credibility and rebuild trust by getting on track to meet their 2030 climate and nature commitments – there’s no time to delay. This is essential to safeguard communities and the nature that sustains us all.’

Director general of WWF International

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