May 14, 2018 | Climate change

The current surface temperatures on our planet are the warmest recorded since modern weather pattern monitoring methods were put into operation in late 1800’s. Climate change refers to an alteration in global or regional climate patterns and attributes this to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Greenhouse effect). A World Bank report indicates that if this atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are not substantially reduced; future effects will be devastating and irreversible. Currently, weather extremes are affecting millions worldwide threatening access to clean water and food. A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report confirms that the impacts of climate on farmers could push up to 122 million people to extreme poverty by 2030.

Agriculture is a key sector in developing countries, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and is a major source of income. By 2030, losses on crop yield will significantly increase food prices, increasing the strain on poor households, resulting in malnutrition and other poverty-related illnesses. Aggravated by discrimination and social exclusion by developed countries the situation prevents developing countries from acquiring the necessary resources to cope with global warming. This coupled with extreme temperatures and precipitation threatens food security. For example, a herder loses one or two cows to famine, due to looming drought, he is compelled to sell the remaining at a very low value. Eventually, he may survive the crisis but will have lost a productive asset, setting him on a vicious cycle of poverty.

The World Bank has conducted research and surveys over the years and appreciates that global temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius in comparison to levels recorded in the pre-industrialization period. The Paris Agreement, which was put in force in November 2016, constitutes a commitment by the entire world to limit the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius this century. The World Bank further reports that the calamities that have hit various parts of the earth have caused losses that run into trillions of dollars, increasing poverty levels in the affected areas. Further, should current trends continue over the next 15 years the world will require a boost of $90 trillion in development and infrastructure. This is a warning sound that action is required now to mitigate big losses and huge costs later.

Governments have been urged by researchers on climate change to reduce and control the drivers of greenhouse gas emissions. Experts around the globe are also working with the World Bank Group to assist in developing policies and recommendations that will provide guidance in rapid action on poverty and climate change. The Climate Change Action Plan was developed to lay out concrete actions to aid countries to mitigate current risks while addressing future threats. The actions put forth are focused on client demand support; this is due to the fact that climate change is a complex phenomenon affecting multiple sectors in an integrated way. This way, the World Bank Group will aid in shaping principles and national investment plans where action on the ground will be necessitated by demand in the countries.