June 19, 2013 – World Bank Report: Warmer World Will Keep Millions of People Trapped in Poverty

Regular food shortages in Sub-Saharan Africa; shifting rain patterns in South Asia leaving some parts under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation, or drinking; degradation and loss of reefs in South East Asia resulting in reduced fish stocks and coastal communities and cities more vulnerable to increasingly violent storms; these are  a few of the likely impacts of a possible global temperature rise of  2°C  in the next few decades that threatens to trap millions of people in poverty, according to a new scientific report released on June 19, 2013 by the World Bank Group.

Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience builds on a World Bank report released late last year, which concluded the world would warm by 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action now.

This new report focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia and examines the likely impacts of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, and coastal vulnerability for affected populations.

The report finds many significant climate and development impacts are already being felt in some regions, and in some cases multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods are expected to have further severe negative implications for the poorest. Climate related extreme events could push households below the poverty trap threshold. High temperature extremes appear likely to affect yields of rice, wheat, maize and other important crops, adversely affecting food security.

Promoting economic growth and the eradication of poverty and inequality will  be an increasingly challenging task. Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the risks already locked in at current levels of 0.8°C warming, but with ambitious global action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C.

“These changes forecast for the tropics illustrate the level of hardships that will be inflicted on all regions eventually, it we fail to keep warming under control,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate and weather extremes.”

“I do not believe the poor are condemned to the future scientists envision in this report. In fact, I am convinced we can reduce poverty even in a world severely challenged by climate change,” President Kim continued. “We can help cities grow clean and climate resilient, develop climate smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies. We can work with countries to roll back harmful fossil fuel subsidies and help put the policies in place that will eventually lead to a stable price on carbon.”

“We are determined to work with countries to find solutions,” Kim said. “But, the science is clear. There can be no substitute for aggressive national mitigation targets, and the burden of emissions reductions lies with a few large economies.”

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