Alert: 'Climate to destroy world wealth'

Global warming

The World Bank has warned that global temperatures could rise by four degrees this century without immediate action, with potentially devastating consequences for coastal cities and the poor.

Issuing a call for action, the World Bank tied the future wealth of the planet and especially developing regions to immediate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as energy production.

"The time is very, very short. The world has to tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said yesterday on a conference call as he launched a report conducted for the global lender.

"We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today."

The study said the planet could warm 4.0 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels as early as the 2060s if governments' promises to fight climate change are not met.

Even if nations fulfill current pledges, the study gave a 20 percent likelihood of a four-degree rise by 2100 and said that a three-degree rise appeared likely. UN-led climate negotiations have vowed to limit the rise of temperatures to no more than two degrees.

"A four-degree warmer world can and must be avoided. We need to hold warming below two degrees," Kim said. "Lack of ambitious action on climate change threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the study showed the need to hold nations to their commitment, made last year in Durban, South Africa, to put in place a legally binding new climate agreement by 2015.

The more than 190 nations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change start their latest annual talks on November 26 in Qatar.

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