Floods, reef loss and migration: Asia's future on a hotter planet

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 14, 2017

Climate change will bring soaring temperatures, more intense storms, erratic rainfall, plummeting crop yields and a collapse of coral reefs to Asia-Pacific unless countries fully implement their commitments under the Paris climate pact, scientists said today, calling the challenges "unprecedented". According to a report produced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the temperature on Asian landmass will increase by almost 6 degree Celsius by the end of the century.

The report titled "A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific", says that the coastal and low-lying areas in the region will be at an increased risk of flooding.

"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", the ADB said in a statement. "If they choose to protect themselves against risky climate change, they will help to save the entire planet", said Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK Director.

The 2015 Paris climate accord commits nations to keep global temperatures well below 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Sea level may rise by 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) if temperatures increase by 4C.

Asia´s global economic links mean that extreme climate events could disrupt supply chains not only in the region but also in the rest of the world, it warned.

Increased vulnerability to flooding and other disasters will significantly impact the region - and the world - economically.

Of the top 20 cities with the largest projected increase in annual flood losses between 2005 and 2050, 13 are in Asia - located in China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.

The report also says that the food production in the region would become more hard and production cost will increase.

Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern China could experience even hotter climates, with temperatures rising 8 degrees Celsius, it added. 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.

The report says warmer weather could also affect marine ecosystems, particularly in the Western Pacific, which will be in serious danger by 2100.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, the study projects a six degrees Celsius temperature increase over the Asian landmass by the end of the century. Already, 3.3 million people die every year due to the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution, with the PRC, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh being the top four countries experiencing such deaths.

Citing data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), it says heat-related deaths in the region among the elderly are expected to increase by about 52,000 cases by 2050 due to climate change.

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