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Climate Change Could Push 100 Million People Into Extreme Poverty In Coming Years, Experts Warn

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Unless the world takes action to fight climate change, 100 million more people could be driven into poverty by the year 2030, a report from the World Bank says.

Climate change and global warming are and will continue to be a "significant obstacle" to efforts to eradicate poverty, the report says, citing climate-related impacts on people including drought, flooding, failed crops and rising food prices.

"This report sends a clear message that ending poverty will not be possible unless we take strong action to reduce the threat of climate change on poor people and dramatically reduce harmful emissions," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

Ending poverty by 2030, a goal adopted by the United Nations in September, will prove impossible unless countries take action to limit climate change, he said.

"Climate change hits the poorest the hardest, and our challenge now is to protect tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty because of a changing climate," he said.

The main factor driving increased poverty will be the impact of climate change on agriculture, the report said.

Modeling undertaken for the report suggests climate change could lead to worldwide crop losses of 5 percent by 2030 and as much as 30 percent by 2080.

The dual problems of ending poverty and dealing with climate change represent "the defining issues of our generation," said John Roome, World Bank senior director for climate change.

The world's poorer populations are sadly unprepared to handle the effects climate change could have on them, the World Bank report said.

"They have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt," it noted.

Global "hot spots" for the impacts of climate change on poor people include South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the report authors say.

While climate effects are often measured in terms of its financial impacts on countries' Gross Domestic Product, that doesn't capture the full human cost, says report author Stéphane Hallegatte, a World Bank senior economist.

"Poor people don't count," he said. "They are so poor, in most cases they don't show up in national statistics."

To ensure that climate change doesn't cripple efforts to reduce poverty, the world should invest in resilient infrastructure, adaptation measures and social safety nets, the report authors recommend.

Adaptation can only help in the short term, Hallegatte claims.

"In the long term, we find limits to what adaptation and resilience can achieve," he said. "It [global warming] can be stabilized only if net emissions are brought to zero ... We really want to achieve that without slowing down poverty reductions."

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