Climate change has been on many people's minds for the last few years, but few consider how it could affect the poorest members of society. A recent report by the World Bank cautions that climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. This would be the result of disruptions to agriculture and the spread of disease, such as malaria.
The report comes, quite conspicuously, just a few weeks ahead of a UN summit in Paris to address climate concerns. The report noted that the impact of global warming would be borne unevenly by the world's nations, with the poorest suffering far worse than those in more well developed countries. It also noted the devastating economic consequences of things like rising sea levels and severe droughts on those least capable to counteract their impact.
The Paris talks will likely cover issues like how to deal with climate change and how to help those poorer nations adapt to the changes already taking place. The World Bank's report calls for measures such as the provision of financing by richer countries to poorer nations attempting to shore up infrastructure against the effects of climate change.
Despite promises regarding the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and other global warming gasses, regulatory change has been slow. Thus, climate change is not likely to halt or reverse anytime in the near future. In fact, carbon emissions project to continue to increase over the next few years as developing nations like China, India and others continue to expand their industry, typically relying on the use of fossil fuels to power that expansion.
According to a report by ABC7News in San Francisco, just a few efforts to protect the poor could make an immense difference in reducing or preventing spikes in poverty. These measures include providing better access to health care, creating social safety nets, and supporting measures to prevent flood damage and develop more heat-tolerant crops. Without such measures, the World Bank warns, the world may experience a crisis as an additional 100 million people sink below the poverty line by 2030.
The report relied on other studies that predicted losses of crop yields as high as 5 percent by 2030 thanks to climate change. Those same studies said losses could reach a devastating 80 percent by 2080. Other studies noted that temperature increases could spread the sphere of danger for malaria to affect an additional 150 million people. Hotspots for climate impact damage included sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The U.S. and several other developed nations have promised to increase financing to developing nations to help them prepare for climate changes. However, developing countries are calling for commitments beyond those already promised, fearing that the amount pledged will be too little to address their very serious concerns about the uncertain future.