Barcelona – The World Bank has warned that without the right policies to keep the poor safe from extreme weather and rising seas, climate change could drive over 100 million more people into poverty by 2030.
It said in a report released on Monday in Barcelona that in ending poverty, one of 17 new UN goals adopted in September would be impossible if global warming and its effects on the poor were not accounted for in development efforts.
The bank said more ambitious plans to reduce climate-changing emissions aimed at keeping global temperature rise within an internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees Celsius must be effected to cushion poor people from any negative repercussions.
Jim Kim, World Bank Group President, noted during the release of the report that the bank estimate of 100 million more poor by 2030 is on top of 900 million expected to be living in extreme poverty, if development progresses slowly.
He said in 2015, the bank put the number of poor at 702 million people.
John Roome, World Bank Senior Director for Climate Change, said climate change is already hurting the poorest through decreased crop yields, floods washing away assets and livelihoods, and a bigger threat of diseases like malaria.
He described ending poverty and tackling climate change as the defining issues of our generation, stressing that the best way forward is to tackle poverty alleviation and climate change in an integrated strategy.
“Poor families are more vulnerable to climate stresses than the rich because their main assets are often badly built homes and degrading land, and their losses are largely uninsured.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
“Low-income households in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are particularly at risk of having their hard-won gains wiped out by climate-linked disasters, forcing them back into extreme poverty,’’ he said.
Roome warned that between now and 2030, climate policies can do little to alter the amount of global warming that will happen, making it vital to invest in adaptation measures and broader ways, to make people more resilient.
“Better social safety nets and health coverage for all, together with targeted improvements such as flood defences, early warning systems and hardier crops, could prevent or offset most of the negative effects of climate change on poverty in the next 15 years.
Roome highlighted the need to roll out good policies faster, and ensure development projects consider climate projections, so that new infrastructure is not damaged in the future.
“To rein in the longer-term impacts on poverty, immediate policies are needed that bring emissions to zero by the end of this century.
He insisted that some of the policies would have benefits for the poor, such as cleaner air, more energy efficiency and better public transport.
Roome added that others could increase energy and food prices, which represent a large share of poor people’s expenditures.
He warned that policy shifts need not threaten short-term progress against poverty, provided they are well-designed and international support is made available.
“For example, savings from eliminating fossil fuel subsidies could be reinvested in assistance schemes to help poor families cope with higher fuel costs.
Or governments could introduce carbon or energy taxes and recycle the revenues through a universal cash transfer that would benefit the poor,’’ he said.
Stephane Hallegatte, Senior World Bank Economist, who led the team that prepared the report, said there are windows of opportunity to achieve the poverty objectives in the face of climate change, provided wise policy choices are made.
He said the international community can help by providing financial and technological support for things like insurance schemes, crop research, public transport and weather forecasting systems. (Reuters/NAN)