March 1, 2024

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Climate change and nature loss pose greatest risks for humanity: WEF Global Risk Report 2024

The EU needs to reboost the Green Deal to warrant safety and well-being and increase resilience. © Rohan Kelly

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 ten-year period.

The report found the top four most severe risks over the next ten 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 ten 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,” said Kirsten Schuijt, Director General of WWF International

“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 well-being of its people and increase its autonomy and resilience,“ added Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office.

“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,” concluded Kirsten Schuijt.

The WEF Global Risks Report 2024 finds that environmental risks continue to dominate the risks landscape. Two-thirds of global experts are worried about extreme weather events in 2024. Extreme weather, critical change to Earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, natural resource shortages and pollution represent five of the top 10 most severe risks perceived to be faced over the next decade.

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