There’s a common misconception that environmentalism is a concern of the relatively affluent.

Who has time to worry about climate change when they're struggling to put food on the table?

According to a new report from the World Bank entitled "Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience," nothing could be further from the truth. Climate change is already threatening the very real progress that’s been made in fighting poverty around the globe, and this threat is going to get increasingly severe in coming decades.

The World Bank, which has reported on the potentially devastating poverty/climate change intersect before, is predicting droughts, flooding, storms and other severe weather that will create forced migrations, outbreaks of disease, put pressure on already scarce food resources, and generally unsettle regions that were already struggling to maintain stability.

In a response to the World Bank report, Greenpeace International climate campaigner Stephanie Tunmore urged immediate and concerted action to assist the poor in adapting to climate change, and also in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon future:

"Fossil fuels are being extracted and burned in the name of development and prosperity, but what they are delivering is the opposite, as the World Bank’s report so clearly underlines. 

"Bold action is needed from all governments, and the World Bank must lead the way by shifting all its energy financing from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency. These are the only solutions that can truly end poverty and avert catastrophic climate change.

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Of course, these calls from environmental activists are nothing new. What is more promising, however, is that the World Bank – which has previously funded fossil fuel projects in the pursuit of poverty reduction – may finally be listening. In fact, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stated that poverty reduction, climate change mitigation, clean energy development and the phasing out of fossil fuels must now be seen as fundamentally interrelated parts of the same mission:

“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.”

Meanwhile, World Bank’s Regional President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero explains what the consequences of climate change might be for her region, including potentially disastrous changes to monsoon patterns, in the video below:

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