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World Bank chief: Climate change will be 'devastating'

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The World Bank president Jim Yong Kim has called for urgent measures to combat the "devastating" consequences of climate change.

The Financial Times reports that the World Bank president believes the risk of climate change and accompanying rise in temperature could result in a world of floods, sea level rises, crop damage and food shortages, water scarcity, as well as other unforeseen consequences.

The findings of a recent report analyzing a world 4 degrees hotter, published by the World Bank, prompted the call for action -- which says that although climate change will affect every nation, the poorest will suffer.

"A 4 degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided –- we need to hold warming below 2 degrees," said Kim. "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."

Dr Kim hopes the report will "shock us into action". As global warming is increased by the burning of fossil fuels -- including coal, oil and gas -- we may not be seeing the full effects yet, but the World Bank can foresee a future where devastating natural disasters become commonplace.

As an example, heat waves like the one in Russia two years ago which led to thousands of deaths and an estimate $15bn of economic damage "are likely to become the new normal summer in a 4°C world", according to the study.

If temperatures rise by more than 2 degrees, it is believed by many scientists that this alone will trigger dangerous consequences. The International Energy Agency recently said that without a worldwide agreement to slow this process and cut carbon emissions, the threat would be "locked in" by 2017.

The world's temperature has risen 0.8 degrees from pre-industrial levels, but with smarter use of fossil fuels and energy conservation techniques, the World Bank believes that levels can be held below 2 degrees.

"The world must tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively," Kim said. "Greater adaptation and mitigation efforts are essential and solutions exist. We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity. But time is very short."

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— By on November 18, 2012, 9:45 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure