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Warming to impact economies

June 19, 2013

A World Bank report has warned that ongoing global warming could trap millions of people in poverty. It said large areas of arable land would disappear, wreaking large-scale economic havoc.

Employees dig up sweet potatoes in a farm in Brits, near Pretoria AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT
Image: AFP/Getty Images

The World Bank report insisted severe hardships from global warming could be felt within a generation as it detailed likely devastating impacts on economies in Africa and Asia in particular.

The study claimed for instance that even by the 2030s, some 40 percent of the land used to grow maize in sub-Saharan Africa would be unable to sustain that crop because of heat and droughts. Also by that time, the predicted rise in sea levels coupled with more intense cyclones could inundate much of Thailand's capital, Bangkok.

The Washington-based bank announced it was stepping up its support for efforts to curb climate change and weather extremes. "Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate change," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

Heading towards disaster

The bank said it was concerned that unless the world took bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatened to put economic prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development.

It said there was a growing chance that warming would reach or exceed four degrees Celsius in this century in the absence of short-term actions and further commitments to reduce emissions.

Aid groups welcomed the report which was launched in London and prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

"The World Bank must ensure its own lending meets the needs of the people who are most vulnerable to climate change," said an activist for the British Oxfam charity, Sasanka Thilakasiri.

hg/slk (AFP, AP)