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World Economic Forum: These are the biggest threats to the world

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
'Red Brigade' activists demonstrate against the Australian government's inaction over climate change despite the bushfires crisis, outside the Australian Embassy in London, UK. Photo: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The global climate crisis is the biggest threat to global stability, according to a new survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF on Wednesday released its Global Risk Report, a survey of over 700 members asking what the biggest threats to global stability are. The results show that all of the top five biggest risks in terms of likelihood are climate related. Three of the top five biggest risks in terms of impact are also climate related. 2020 marks the first time the WEF survey’s five most likely threats were all climate related.

“It’s really, really serious,” Borge Brende, president of WEF, said at a press conference in London to launch the report.

READ MORE: Climate crisis is biggest threat to the planet, warn global elite

The Global Risk Report’s release is timed to coincide with Davos, WEF’s annual meeting of members, next week where climate action will be high on the agenda.

Here are what WEF members see as the biggest risks to the world over the next 10 years, ranked by likelihood:

  1. Extreme weather, which could cause major damage to property, infrastructure, and loss of human life. Wildfires in Australia and California were mentioned as examples of recent weather-related disasters.

  2. Failure to tackle climate-change. Brende warned that the world is increasingly divided and united action to tackle a warming planet looks difficult.

  3. Human-made environmental damage. The report warns that “habitats are being destroyed by untreated waste; by pollutants from industrial, mining and agricultural activities; and by oil spills and toxic dumping.” All of this is contributing to the destruction of habitats and ecosystems.

  4. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse with irreversible consequences. Human activity has already wiped out 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, according to a study cited by WEF.

  5. Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms. The volcanic eruption in New Zealand last month, which has resulted in 20 deaths, is the most recent example.

Here are the top five biggest threats to global stability in the next decade, ranked by potential impact:

  1. Failure to tackle climate-change

  2. Weapons of mass destruction

  3. Loss of biodiversity

  4. Extreme weather

  5. A water crisis

“We only have a very small window,” Brende said. “If we do not take action in the next 10 year, we will be moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

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