After Schmallenberg and Bluetongue, expert warns of new diseases threatening Britain's livestock and crops because of global warming

Bleak assessment of climate change means world was facing 'a lot more unanticipated events'

Environment Editor

Britain faces a wave of deadly new animal and plant diseases that threaten to wipe out crops and livestock as a direct result of global warming, the World Bank's top agricultural expert has warned.

The country can expect to import more diseases, such as the deadly Schmallenberg virus that arrived from overseas about 18 months ago and is sweeping through new-born cattle and sheep spread by midge bites, the expert said.

Rachel Kyle, the World Bank's vice president for sustainable development, told The Independent: "The rapidity with which the Schmallenberg virus is moving across the UK is increasing and we are probably going to see more of these things happening."

"We expect to see more outbreaks of unknown pathogens [disease-causing micro-organisms] as temperatures and weather patterns change," she added.

The arrival of the Bluetongue disease, which is also transmitted by midges and hit UK sheep farmers badly in the past few years, is another example of the kind of virus that is prospering in the warmer climate and that we could see more of in the future, Ms Kyle said.

In one of the bleakest assessment's yet of the implications of climate change, Ms Kyle said Britain and the world was going to have to get used to "a lot more unanticipated events".

"If you travel round the countryside, every gardener and farmer has observed the impact of climate change. It's not all down to the induced impact of climate change, but some of it is," she said.

The World Bank also warned that climate change was likely to damage Britain's crops in the future. A new variety of an old crop disease called "stem rust" could arrive in the country within the next year, said Erick Fernandes, a World Bank advisor on climate change.

The disease, known as Ug99 because it was first identified in Uganda in 1999, has since spread to other African countries such as Kenya, Sudan and Yemen and has now spread to Iran.

Mr Fernandes said: "Rust is clearly moving further north and there is little stopping it. It's not a question of if, but when it arrives in the UK. It could come in a year, although it's difficult to know when it might happen.

However long it takes, the spread is likely to be speeded up by climate change, Mr Fernandes said.

"Rust is carried with the wind through spores, which are the equivalent of eggs and work better under warmer conditions. So as temperatures get warmer, the conditions for these kind of fungal pathogens become even better," he said.

The World Bank experts spoke to The Independent as they launched a new report assessing the impact of climate change on Africa and Asia. Its findings on the UK were derived from the research for that report.

In one particularly alarming finding, the report, named Turn Down the Heat, said that the sea level is rising so fast that it may be too late to prevent large swathes of Bangkok disappearing under water in the next two decades.

The report predicts that by the 2030s droughts and heat will leave 40 per cent of the land in Sub-Saharan Africa that is now being used to grow maize unable to support that crop, while rising temperatures could cause major loss of savannah grasslands threatening pastoral livelihoods. By the 2050s the proportion of the population that is undernourished is projected to increase by up to 90 per cent compared to the present, the report found.

The World Bank is a collection of five organisations and its mission is to reduce global poverty by making loans to poor countries.

CLIMATE CHANGE WILL TRAP MILLIONS IN POVERTY

The Turn Down the Heat report finds that climate change will hit the world's poorest people, in Africa and Asia, considerably harder than the better off West.

One finding suggests that the sea level is rising so fast that much of Bangkok is likely to be under water in just two decades. The report finds a sea level rise of 15 centimeters by the 2030s and as much as 50 cms by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a result of past carbon emissions.

World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said: "The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2C [the target world leaders have ambitiously set] - warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years - that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves and more intense cyclones."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas
film
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Content Manager

£26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee