World Bank Report Poorest People Vulnerable Climate Change
June 19, 2013

World Bank Report Says Planet’s Poorest Most Vulnerable To Global Warming

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

The World Bank released a statement today warning that the disastrous effects of global warming could be felt “in our lifetime,” along with a new study projecting the damage to Africa and Asia in particular.

"The scientists tell us that if the world warms by (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) — warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years — that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat waves, and more intense cyclones," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in the statement.

“In sub-Saharan“¯Africa, food shortages will become more common,” said Rachel Kyte, a World Bank vice president for sustainable development. “In“¯South Asia, shifting rain patterns will leave some areas underwater and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or drinking.”

In order to set a benchmark for reducing carbon emissions, the United Nations has proposed the goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 F (2.0 C) since the 1800s. Scientists have pegged the current level of warming at 1.4 F.

In the World Bank report, a panel of international scientists focused on the potential impacts of climate change on some of the poorest nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia on a range of issues, including agriculture, water availability and vulnerability to flooding.

The report noted that while the current level of warming has already had increased drought in Sub-Saharan Africa,  a 3.6 degree elevation in average temperatures — which is expected by around 2040 — would have catastrophic consequences.

Unprecedented heat waves would cut crop production, causing extensive food shortages, the report said. In addition, some areas in the report would see a 20-percent drop in water availability, putting water and food resources "at severe risk."

Kyte said the bank is currently working with some of the cities mentioned in the report, such as Manila and Ho Chi Minh City, on flood mitigation. She added that the developmental organization also is preparing cities to absorb investment for infrastructure projects that can now be informed by the report´s projections.

"When the investment community understands risks, then they always flip that into an opportunity in terms of investment vehicles," she said, adding that there has been "a fundamental shift" in how the World Bank considers climate change in its development strategy.

The report called for an urgent solution, saying there is a chance to avoid the worst of the crisis.

"It is not too late to hold warming near (3.6 F), and build resilience to temperatures and other climate impacts that are expected to still pose significant risks to agriculture, water resources, coastal infrastructure, and human health," the report said. "The window for holding warming below two degrees Celsius and avoiding a (7.2 F) world is closing rapidly, and the time to act is now."

With an eye on carbon emissions, Greenpeace has pushed for the World Bank to end funding for fossil-fuels projects.

"Bold action is needed from all governments, and the World Bank must lead the way by shifting all its energy financing from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency," the environmental organization said in a statement.