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World Bank Warns New Drought-Resistant Crops Will Be Needed As Global Warming Intensifies

COLOGNE, GERMANY, MAY 12:  The world should do more to develop drought-resistant crops or new flood controls as part of a drive to ease the damaging impact of climate change, the head of environment at the World Bank said.

"As a development institution we have to focus on the fact that millions of people will suffer from climate change," Warren Evans told Reuters on the fringes of a carbon markets trade fair in Cologne, Germany.

He said that countries had so far put most emphasis on trying to slow global warming without focusing enough on how to help societies adapt to the likely changes, such as more floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

"We'll focus on catching up over the next two years on impacts and adaptation," Evans said. New schemes could include planning for water shortages and extreme weather - such as developing drought-resistant crops and improved flood controls, he said.

Or the world could work out new insurance facilities and improve climate modelling efforts to predict likely changes. Most scientists say that heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels in factories, cars and power plants are pushing up temperatures. The Earth has warmed by an average 0.7 Celsius (1.3F) in the past 100 years, with a forecast further 1.4-5.8 Celsius rise over the next 100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which advises the United Nations. Some environmentalists are wary of focusing on adaptation, fearing it will give governments an excuse to do less to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. Evans said that leading industrial nations in the G8 should do more to help developing nations.

"The last G8 pushed African development but didn¹t focus on the impact of climate change on Africa. We need to catch up on our understanding of that," Evans said.

Last month, the World Bank said low-lying states, China, India and sub-Saharan Africa were likely to be among the hardest hit by climate change.