Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Mrs Lagarde warned how nations must come together to tackle damage from emissions and rising temperatures or risk knock-on effects to the financial sector. Her deterrent comes just days after the WEF highlighted environmental threats as among the top risks facing the world this year in a shock report before the annual event in Davos. Among the environmental threats listed in the doom-laden report include extreme weather events, made worse by global warming and a failure to tackle climate change. Wildlife loss as well as man-made environmental disasters and natural disasters are also in the top 10 of risks both in terms of high impact and high likelihood in 2019.
Also listed was fear of a water crisis, which can be linked to and exacerbated by climate change.
Speaking of the threat of climate change today, Mrs Lagarde called for immediate action to protect the planet.
She said: “If we don’t make the minimum global effort, which will be hopefully upped next year, to curb emissions, rising temperatures will wipe out whole segments of economies, not to mention the dramatic human damage it will cause.”
After the release of the report earlier this week, Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, urged businesses to develop a climate resilience strategy and act on it immediately.
She said: “2018 was sadly a year of historic wildfires, continued heavy flooding and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns.
“So, too, does the growing likelihood of environmental policy failure or a lack of timely policy implementation.
“To effectively respond to climate change requires a significant increase in infrastructure to adapt to this new environment and transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Tanya Steele, chief executive of the WEF, said: “We are the first generation to know that we are destroying the world and the last that can do anything about it.”
The report was a “wake-up call for the world and business leaders alike”, she said.
Ms Steele added: “We urgently need a new global deal for people and nature to kick start a global programme of recovery to ensure we and future generations have a world that is fit to live in.”
The Bishop of Dudley, Graham Usher, warned the world’s most deprived areas will be affected most severely by climate change.
He said: “It is significant that the threats posed by climate change have been recognised by the world’s top economic experts.
“While this report serves to strengthen calls for urgent action to protect and sustain God’s creation, it also highlights the peril of inactivity and delay, which particularly places the economically poorest people in our world at risk of devastating consequences.”