Extreme weather to become the "new normal", World Bank says

24th November 2014


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  • Adaptation

Author

Inmog Yang

Declines in agricultural production caused by climate change will have severe repercussions for food security and may damage economic growth and social stability, according to the World Bank.

Heatwaves and other extreme weather that previously occurred only once in hundreds of years may now be far more frequent because the earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, the bank said in a new report.

The report was prepared by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and analyses the likely impacts of warming of 0.8°C, 2°C and 4°C above pre-industrial levels on agricultural production, water resources, ecosystem services and coastal vulnerability around the world.

The report focuses on three regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa and parts of Europe and Central Asia. Extreme heat, similar to that experienced in the US in 2012 and Russia and Central Asia in 2010, is a threat common to all these areas, it said.

In Brazil, for example, crop yields could decrease by up to 70% for soybean and up to 50% for wheat by 2050 if the world warms by 2°C, the analysis found, while a similar level of warming would reduce crop yields in Jordan, Egypt and Libya by up to 30% by the middle of the century.

The findings underline how global temperature rises are increasingly threatening the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, the bank said.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the bank, said: “These changes have serious consequences for development budgets, and for institutions like the World Bank Group, where our investments, support and advice must now also build resilience and help affected populations adapt.”


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