Renewables Can Alleviate Hunger and Poverty

Greater use of wind and solar energy is one way that the World Bank can reduce the impact of climate change on developing countries.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-06-18 [] Greater use of wind and solar energy is one way that the World Bank can reduce the impact of climate change on developing countries. The “overwhelming majority of experts” in both developed and developing countries recognize that the earth’s climate is heating up and that further human-induced changes in climate are inevitable, explains Robert Watson, chief scientist with the World Bank and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC recently concluded that average surface temperatures of the earth will rise by as much as 10.4oF over the next century, compared with only 1.1oF during the previous 100 years. It noted that sea levels have risen up to 8 inches since 1900, and could rise another 35 inches over the next century. “This could mean that low-lying small island states and deltaic regions of developing countries in South Asia, the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean could eventually disappear under water, displacing tens of millions of people in the process,” Watson said during a World Bank conference on climate change. “Peoples’ exposure to malaria and dengue fever, already rampant in the tropics and sub-tropics, could become even more severe; crop production could significantly decrease in Africa, Latin America and in other developing countries; and fresh water could become even more scarce in many areas of the world already facing shortages.” Due to the disproportionate impact of climate change on developing countries, the World Bank is helping its clients in developing nations to adapt to climatic variability and the longer-term effects of climate change. The help comes in the form of environmentally-sustainable energy sources such as wind turbines, solar panel and hydroelectric facilities, and includes construction of flood walls and strengthening of bridges, to setting up food banks and planting crops that grow in dryer or wetter conditions. The Washington conference also heard from Robert Mendelsohn of Yale University, David Victor of the Council on Foreign Relations; Benito Mueller of Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, Atiq Rahman from the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, and Danish energy minister Svend Auken. “Without action to limit global greenhouse gas emissions, the earth’s climate will warm at an unprecedented rate, with serious consequences for this global society of ours,” he adds. “These changes cannot be reversed quickly, if at all, because of the long time it takes for the gasses to dissipate.” “The World Bank takes the IPCC report very seriously for the very large reason that it is the poor people who will suffer most and the poor countries who are the most vulnerable to climate change,” says World Bank vice president Ian Johnson,

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