World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into extreme poverty

Source:  Independent
November 9 2015

climate change 2.jpgClimate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank has said in a report.

UN climate summit in Paris

Released just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, the report highlighted how the impact of global warming is borne unevenly, with the world’s poor woefully unprepared to deal with climate shocks such as rising seas or severe droughts.

“They have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt,” the Washington-based World Bank said.

How to help poor countries — and poor communities within countries — deal with climate change is one of the crunch issues in talks on a global climate accord that’s supposed to be adopted next month in Paris.

The demand for climate finance to developing countries

Those who say that rich countries aren’t doing enough to help the poor said the report added emphasis to demands for billions of dollars in so-called climate finance to developing countries.

“The statistics in the World Bank report are suitably shocking and I hope they force world leaders to sit up and take notice,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid.

“The Paris deal needs to support the poor and vulnerable communities to cope with unavoidable climate crises better, and to be more resilient to a changed climate.”

Emissions of global warming gases

Despite pledges to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, climate change isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.

Carbon emissions are expected to rise for many years as China, India and other developing countries expand the use of fossil fuels to power their economies.

But efforts to protect the poor, such as generally improving access to health care and social safety nets, and targeted measures to upgrade flood defences and deploy more heat-tolerant crops could prevent most of the negative consequences of climate change on poverty, the bank said.

With the absence of  such good developments, “climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030,” the report said.

Stephane Hallegatte, one of the authors, told The Associated Press that one of the unique features of the report was that instead of analysing the macro-economic impact of climate change it was based in part on surveys of 1.4 million people in 92 countries.

Three major factors that push people into poverty

“When we ask people why they fall into poverty there are three major factors,” he said. “Agricultural shocks, including an increase in food prices; natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms; and health issues, including malaria, diarrhoea.”

The report referred to studies showing climate change could result in global crop yield losses as large as five percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2080. It also referenced studies showing warming temperatures could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by 150 million.

Mr Hallegatte said the “hotspots” for climate impacts on poor people were sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The US and other countries have collectively pledged to scale up climate financing to developed countries to $100 billion annually by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions.

Developing countries are calling for commitments beyond 2020 in the Paris agreement but rich nations are reluctant to make firm promises, in part due to budget uncertainties.

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated climate finance flows to developing countries reached $62 billion in 2014.

Source:  World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into extreme poverty

2 thoughts on “World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into extreme poverty

  1. Pingback: Climate, police state, tear gas, shoes in Paris | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. The recently released World Bank report that the rapidly deteriorating climate crisis will push an estimated100 million people into extreme poverty by 2015 is both important and interesting for at least four reasons.

    First, it is important because it is another reminder from an important international organization that confirms once again what leading climate scientists at the UN, at NASA such as James Hanson and others at leading research and academic institutions in the US and globally have repeatedly stated in their research, lectures, interviews and opinion pieces in leading newspapers and magazines.

    Indeed, the Pope and other religious leaders of diverse faiths have also made strong pronouncements about the impending climate catastrophe that is already pushing millions perhaps tens of millions of poor and other marginalized peoples into poverty, diseases and other desperate situations such as homelessness.

    Thus to the extent that anyone else will listen particularly the many governments that are more beholden to the oil, gas and coal interests than they are to their own peoples, the World Bank’s report is an important reminder that climate change is a devastating reality for all of humanity.

    Secondly, the World Bank report should make it clear particularly as a neoliberal financial institution that has played its role in promoting electrification programs globally based on fossil fuels. Indeed according to the Guardian newspaper of April 27th 2015, the World Bank Group provided loans of $3.3 billion to fossil fuel projects during its last fiscal year.

    Nonetheless, the World Bank’s report even with the latter’s inconsistency still helps to signal that the days of the climate deniers backed by multi-billion dollar fossil fuel companies like BP and Exxon are over. There is simply no credibility left for climate deniers particularly after it was revealed that Exxon’s own scientists had internally confirmed to its management that climate change was real nearly forty years ago. As such, the credibility of all those fake scientists, think tanks and politicians who have been paid by Exxon and other oil, gas and coal companies to lie to the public and to create doubts about the impending climate disaster is no longer in any doubt. In other words, climate change has long been a settled scientific fact.

    Further, it is reasonable to assume that if Exxon’s scientists knew that the burning of fossil fuels unfavorably impacted climate change that the scientists for BP, Shell and the others quite likely knew too and may have told their respective managements as well. It is plausible to believe that Exxon’s scientists interacted with the scientists working for the other multinational companies whether in their capacity as friends, colleagues or perhaps classmates who probably shared notes about their work. For the latter not to have occurred is pretty hard to believe even with corporate restrictions and boundaries as to what employees can and cannot do.

    Third, the World Bank’s report is also interesting as it is important because for decades now perhaps for its entire life, the World Bank has pursued policies that as stated earlier have directly contributed to the enormous burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity in several countries around the globe.

    For example according to the online magazine “Common Dreams” the World Bank’s overall financing for energy-related projects increased 3.5 fold from a total of $6.8 billion in 2000-2004 to $24.5 billion in 2010-2014. Further ” Common Dreams” also indicates that financing for oil, coal and gas grew almost four fold over the same period 2000-2004 and 2010-2014. Indeed, the World Bank, according to “Common Dreams” is still funding fossil fuel projects 1.5 times relative to renewable energy projects and its increased support for coal and gas is said to be “especially strong.” Interestingly, the World Bank according to “Common Dreams” increased funding on “energy and related infrastructure investment in the 48 Least Developed Countries or LDCs” from $1.8 billion in 2000-2004 to $5.2 billion in 2010-2014. However, the Bank’s energy funding to the LDCs declined from 26 % to 21% during the two periods. Equally interesting is the fact that though funding for renewable energy sources increased five-fold in the LDCs, it is noteworthy that though funding for fossil fuel projects by the World Bank in the LDCs increased more slowly over the indicated periods, the funding for fossil fuel projects in the LDCs more than doubled in the period.

    In other words, the Bank’s fingerprints are big and clear on the climate crisis that is already destroying hundreds of millions of lives for people everywhere but more so those in developing countries. The masses of poor people in the developing countries are already experiencing a hellish life coping with severe droughts, floods, storms and diseases that are largely attributable to the massive burning of fossil fuels to enrich the Exxons and BPs of our world.

    Furthermore, the World Bank’s report asserts quite rightly that vast numbers of poor people in the world particularly in developing countries have paltry resources and will be the worst affected by the climate crisis triggered by the multinational fossil fuel corporations and the relative inaction of the governments they control in the developed and developing countries.

    In this regard , the World Bank’s report calls for support systems or safety nets to protect the poor who are most likely to be hardest hit by high food prices due to droughts and the destruction of agriculture, floods and diseases like malaria which tend to strive as the climate warns due to massive emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane gases.

    However, the problem is that for a long time now the World Bank’s structural adjustment programs which have as their central plank the assumed efficacy of free market capitalism have done everything to decimate along with its 18 street Washington DC twin the IMF, the very safety nets for the poor in the developing countries including health care services to treat the diseases like malaria in these countries of the developing world.

    Thus, there is manifest hypocrisy on the part of the World Bank to be calling on the industrialized countries to provide climate finance for the impending climate catastrophe that will disproportionately afflict the poorest people in the poorest countries on the planet while simultaneously carrying out the very policies of deregulation, “getting prices right” through the market system and promoting fossil fuel based energy systems in dozens of developing countries that its biggest donor countries,namely, the US and Western Europe demand of it to pursue to satisfy monopoly finance capital.

    Indeed, as Janet Redman, the co-director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network project at the Institute of Policy Studies states, if the World Bank is serious about the impending climate crisis facing humanity, it should among other things do the following:

    •Make specific commitments to reduce absolute as opposed to relative fossil fuel financing within specific timelines (say by 2030 given the Bank’s prediction of 100 million people being condemned to extreme poverty due to climate change-my addition)

    •Prioritize renewable energy projects in economies in transition, and new renewable mini- and off-grid energy projects in the LDCs (in particular but in developing countries in general-my addition)

    •Calculate and make publicly available direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for all projects, and harmonize methodologies with other multilateral development banks and public finance institutions to the highest standards and

    •Assess alternative renewable energy options for environmental and social, as well as economic, cost and compare them to fossil fuel options

    Finally, the climate crisis that has long been financed by Wall Street and other monopoly finance streets in Western capitals is central to the role of the World Bank which has designed, promoted and implemented several projects in various sectors of the economies in developing countries which have disproportionately left the poorest countries and peoples mostly unable to respond to the worsening agricultural and food crisis, the rising sea levels due to the severe floods and the diseases that will increase like malaria as the climate warms.

    Thus to understand the climate crisis without understanding the World Bank’s contribution to it is like trying to learn differential calculus without understanding the standard rules of differentiation. Simply put it is impossible!

    So as the world looks forward to another UN climate Summit in Paris, the Bank’s report is another telling reminder of the impending climate catastrophe that it has enabled in significant ways to satisfy the financial interests of monopoly financial capital and the dominant governments that serve those interests. It is unimportant whether those governments are in developed countries already industrialized or in developing countries with increasing challenges to industrialize including the strictures of climate change that will no doubt limit their ambitions to industrialize.

    Will there be a significant climate deal among the major polluting nations at the Paris conference on the climate? Or will the financial and corporate oil, gas and coal corporate interests and their political servants blow this chance again in order to keep the fossil fuel industry making hundreds of billions more in profits as the climate tanks?

    These are some important queries to ponder at the Paris Conference on the climate that once again will be a struggle between the peoples of the world desiring clean water, clean air and more generally a sustainable climate on the one hand and the vested corporate and financial interests and their political representatives on the other.

    The World Bank’s report is timely for the Paris Conference. However, it is worth asking whether the Bank’s report is a manifestation of the internal struggles within the Bank over climate change or whether it is a manifestation of a public relations campaign on the part of the Bank to improve its image and credibility. The latter has been so badly damaged over the last few decades particularly in developing countries because of the Bank’s structural adjustment policies that have made the poor more vulnerable and more specifically its role in promoting fossil fuels as energy sources.

    Time alone will tell!

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