Unabated climate change to reverse hard-earned development gains in Asia: ADB Report

ISLAMABAD, July 14 (APP): Unabated climate change would bring
devastating consequences to countries in Asia and the Pacific, which
could severely affect their future growth, reverse current development gains, and
degrade quality of life.
According to a report produced by the Asian Development Bank
(ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK),
under a business-as-usual scenario, a 6 degree Celsius temperature
increase is projected over the Asian landmass by the end of
the century.
Some countries in the region could experience significantly
hotter climates, with temperature increases in Tajikistan,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the northwest part of the People’s
Republic of China (PRC) projected to reach 8 degree Celsius,
according to the report, titled “A Region at Risk: The Human
Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific.”
These increases in temperature would lead to drastic changes
in the region’s weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors,
land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security,
trade, urban development, migration, and health.
Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some
countries in the region and crush any hope of achieving sustainable
and inclusive development.
More intense typhoons and tropical cyclones are expected to
hit Asia and the Pacific with rising global mean temperatures. Under
a business-as-usual scenario, annual precipitation is expected to
increase by up to 50% over most land areas in the region, although
countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan may experience a decline in
rainfall by 20-50%.
Coastal and low-lying areas in the region will be at an
increased risk of flooding. Nineteen of the 25 cities most exposed
to a one-meter sea-level rise are located in the region, 7 of which
are in the Philippines alone. Indonesia, however, will be the most
affected country in the region by coastal flooding with approximately
5.9 million people expected to be affected every year until 2100.
Increased vulnerability to flooding and other disasters will
significantly impact the region – and the world – economically.
Global flood losses are expected to increase to $52 billion
per year by 2050 from $6 billion in 2005. Moreover, 13 of the top
20 cities with the largest growth of annual flood losses from
2005-2050 are in Asia and the Pacific: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang, and
Xiamen (PRC); Mumbai, Chennai-Madras, Surat, and
Kolkata (India); Ho Chi Minh City (Viet Nam); Jakarta (Indonesia);
Bangkok (Thailand); and Nagoya (Japan).
Climate change will also make food production in the region
more difficult and production costs higher.
In some countries of Southeast Asia, rice yields could decline
by up to 50% by 2100 if no adaptation efforts are made.
Almost all crops in Uzbekistan, meanwhile, are projected to
decrease by 20-50% by 2050 even in a 2 degree Celsius temperature
increase (Paris Agreement scenario).
Food shortages could increase the number of malnourished
children in South Asia by 7 million, as import costs will likely
increase in the subregion to $15 billion per year compared to $2
billion by 2050.
Marine ecosystems, particularly in the Western Pacific,
will be in serious danger by 2100. All coral reef systems in
the subregion will collapse due to mass coral bleaching if
global warming increases by 4 degree Celsius (global
business-as-usual scenario).
Even with a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature increase, 89% of
coral reefs are expected to suffer from serious bleaching, severely
affecting reef-related fisheries and tourism in Southeast Asia.
Climate change also poses a significant risk to health in Asia
and the Pacific.
Already, 3.3 million people die every year due to the harmful
effects of outdoor air pollution.
In addition, heat-related deaths in the region among the
elderly are expected to increase by about 52,000 cases by 2050
due to climate change, according to data from the World Health
Organization. Deaths related to vector-borne diseases such as
malaria and dengue may also increase.
A business-as-usual approach to climate change could also
disrupt functioning ecosystem services, prompting mass migration –
mostly to urban areas – that could make cities more crowded and
overwhelm available social services.
Moreover, a warmer climate for the region could endanger
energy supply. Climate change can exacerbate energy insecurity
through continued reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels, reduced
capacities of thermal power plants due to a scarcity of cooling
water, and intermittent performance of hydropower plants as a
result of uncertain water discharges, among other factors. Energy
insecurity could lead to conflicts as countries compete for limited
energy supply.
To mitigate the impact of climate change, the report
highlights the importance of implementing the commitments laid out
in the Paris Agreement.
These include public and private investments focused on the
rapid decarbonization of the Asian economy as well as the
implementation of adaptation measures to protect the region’s most
vulnerable populations.
Climate mitigation and adaptation efforts should also be
mainstreamed into macro-level regional development strategies and
micro-level project planning in all sectors, in addition to the
ongoing renewable energy and technology innovation efforts in urban
infrastructure and transport. The region has both the capacity and
weight of influence to move towards sustainable development
pathways, curb global emissions, and promote adaptation, the report
ADB approved a record $3.7 billion in climate financing in
2016 and has committed to further scale up its investments to $6
billion by 2020.