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PRESS RELEASE

Warming Climate to Hit Bangladesh Hard with Sea Level Rise, More Floods and Cyclones, World Bank Report Says

June 19, 2013

Regional Vice President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero discusses how an expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades threatens South Asia’s dense urban populations with extreme heat, flooding, and disease and could trap millions of people in poverty. Read more at: http://climatechange.worldbank.org

Effects expected from projected rise in temperature, worse effects if warming

Washington DC, June 19, 2013—Bangladesh will be among the most affected countries in South Asia by an expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades, with rising sea levels and more extreme heat and more intense cyclones threatening food production, livelihoods, and infrastructure as well as slowing the reduction on poverty, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group.

The report cited Bangladesh as one of more “potential impact hotspots” threatened by “extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures”. Cyclone Sidr exposed 3.45 million households to inundation. A potential 10 year return cyclone in 2050 could expose 9.7 million people to more than 3 meters of inundation affecting agriculture and lives.

Depicting life in a not-too-distant future shaped by already present warming trends, the report warns that even 20 to 30 years from now, shifting rain patterns could leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or drinking. South Asia is already experiencing a warming climate.

Bangladesh faces particularly severe challenges with climate change threatening its impressive progress in overcoming poverty,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Nepal. “Bangladesh has demonstrated itself as a leader in moving the climate change agenda forward. The World Bank is providing support to enhance the country’s resilience to climate change impacts through adaptation interventions and better disaster preparedness.”

Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience builds on a 2012 Bank report that concluded the world would warm by 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if countries did not take concerted action now. This new report looks at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South East Asia.  

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide,  says the consequences for South Asia of a warming climate are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4°C  by 2090. In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production. For example, flood areas could increase by as much as 29% for a 2.5 ° C in Bangladesh.

A warming climate will contribute to slowing the reduction in poverty. While the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the impacts of progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor. Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers. In Bangladesh, 40% of productive land is projected to be lost in the southern region of Bangladesh for a 65cm sea level rise by the 2080s. About 20 million people in the coastal areas of Bangladesh are already affected by salinity in drinking water. Rising sea levels and more intense cyclones and storm surges could intensify the contamination of groundwater and surface water causing more diarrhea outbreaks.

"In the South Asia region, it is urgent to do prevention work, some of which is already happening,” said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region. “Bangladesh is at the fore front; we have projects and a large multi-donor fund that works on having early warning systems for floods and embankments when there are floods to protect crops and fields and to prevent destruction of the urban infrastructure. And some farmers are already growing vegetables that are adapted to water. Last but not least, it is very important that the countries in the region have a voice in the global conversation about climate change.”

Many of the worst climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C, but the window for action is narrowing rapidly. Urgent action is needed to build resilience through economic development to risks to agriculture, water resources, coastal infrastructure, and human health.   

I do not believe the poor are condemned to the future scientists envision in this report. In fact, I am convinced we can reduce poverty even in a world severely challenged by climate change,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We can help cities grow clean and climate resilient, develop climate smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies.  We can work with countries to roll back harmful fossil fuel subsidies and help put the policies in place that will eventually lead to a stable price on carbon.”

For a copy of Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience go to: http://climatechange.worldbank.org

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