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New assessment shows risks of no action on climate change

07 December 2011

A new scientific assessment of climate change highlights the effects the world could face if global temperature changes are not limited to two degrees. The assessment, commissioned by Energy secretary Chris Huhne and led by the Met Office Hadley Centre, studied 24 different countries. It notes that all the countries in the study have warmed since the 1960s and that the occurrence of extremely warm temperatures has increased whilst extremely cold temperatures have become less frequent.

If emissions are left unchecked, the report says temperatures would rise generally between three and five degrees Celsius this century. This could be accompanied by significant changes in rainfall patterns, leading in many cases to increased pressure on crop production, water stress and flood risks.

Key findings:
- All countries studied show an increase in the number of people at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise. By the end of the century, in the worst case scenario, up to about 49 million additional people could be at risk, with the majority being in Bangladesh, China, India, Egypt and Indonesia.
- The majority of countries studied are projected to see a significant increased risk of river flooding.
- The production of staple food crops may decline in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, and the USA. In some cases, crop yield increases may be expected - for example in Germany and Japan. Food security is highlighted as a growing risk before 2040 in Bangladesh and India.
- Water resources are threatened by drought and growing demand. Areas highlighted as likely to suffer increased water stress include parts of Italy, France and the southwest USA. In some cases however, water stress may decline in some regions.

The country-by-country reports can be downloaded from the Met Office website.

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