ADB: Asia at risk of deeper poverty due to climate change

BEIJING • Asia and the Pacific, home to two thirds of the world’s poor, are at the highest risk of suffering deeper poverty and disaster due to unabated climate change, reversing current development gains, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Asian landmass will see a temperature increase of 6°C (10.8°F) by the end of the century under a business-as-usual scenario, ADB said in a statement last Friday. The comment is based on findings included in a report from the bank and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research that analyses climate risks in Asia and the Pacific.

Some countries in the region could experience significantly hotter climates, with temperature increases in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest China projected to hit 8°C, ADB said.

Hotter climates would cause 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, and may even pose an existential threat to some countries, the ADB said. The findings underscore the need for the region to reduce greenhouse gas emissions along the lines of those agreed to by the global community under the Paris accord — which calls for warming to be limited to well below 2°C — and to explore better strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change.

ADB approved a record US$3.7 billion (RM15.89 billion) in climate financing last year and has pledged to further boost its investments to US$6 billion by 2020, it said.

Other findings in the report include:

• Under a business-as-usual scenario, annual precipitation is expected to rise by as much as 50% over most land areas in the region, although nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan may see a decline in rain- fall by 20% to 50%.

• Nineteen of the 25 cities most exposed to a 1m sea-level rise are located in the region, seven of which are in the Phili- ppines alone. Indonesia, however, will be the country in the region most affected by coastal flooding.

• Thirteen of the top 20 cities with the largest growth of annual flood losses from 2005- 2050 are in the region.

• Climate change will also make food production in the region harder and will raise production costs. In some countries of South-East Asia, rice yields could tumble by up to 50% by 2100 if no adaption efforts are made.

• Marine ecosystems, particularly in the Western Pacific, will be in serious danger by 2100. Even with a 1.5°C temperature increase, 89% of coral reefs are expected to suffer from serious bleaching, severely affecting reef-related fisheries and tourism in South-East Asia.

• Heat-related deaths in the region among the elderly are expected to rise by about 52,000 cases by 2050 due to climate change, according to data from the World Health Organisation. Deaths related to vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue may also increase.

• 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 hydro-power plants as a result of uncertain water discharges, among other factors. — Bloomberg