Released just weeks before the UN climate talks in Paris, the report calls for ‘rapid, inclusive and climate-smart development together with emissions-reductions efforts’ in order to protect the poor from climate risks.

These risks can reportedly include crop failures, spikes in food prices after extreme weather events, and increased incidence of diseases after heat waves and floods.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said: “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,” 

“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.”


The report claimed that ending poverty and fighting climate change could be be more effectively achieved if addressed together. Initially, this would require investment in resiliency, including upgraded flood defences, early warning systems and climate-resistant crops.

The report also calls for ‘an all-out push’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but in a way that ‘does not burden the poor’. For example, the savings from eliminating fossil fuel subsidies could be reinvested in assistance schemes to help poor families cope with higher fuel costs.

Rich countries should help finance these resiliency measures – a key sticking point in the negotiations leading up to Paris, the World Bank says. 

“The future is not set in stone,” said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist at the World Bank who led the team that prepared the report. “We have a window of opportunity to achieve our poverty objectives in the face of climate change, provided we make wise policy choices now.” 

 Flood warning

The report calls for immediate action are given extra weight by a separate report from Climate Central, which warned that a business-as-usual emissions scenario would see up to 760 million people threatened by rising sea waters, with some of the worlds poorest most at risk.

Commenting on the report, Mohamed Adow, the co-chair of CAN International said: “Climate change poses particular risks to developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, small island states and African countries.

“Climate adaptation must therefore be a cornerstone of a successful deal in Paris to help the poor and vulnerable communities and countries adapt and cope with the now unavoidable impacts.

“But prevention is better than cure and in any case the impacts of climate change are beyond the adaptive capacity of any country so rapid and deep cuts in emissions are crucial to avoid the worst impacts now and in the future.”

In the UK alone, 5.9 million would be threatened by rising water levels with 4°C warming, compared to  3.9 million on land at risk from 2°C. 

Brad Allen

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