Asia and Pacific countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, need to thwart challenges posed by natural calamities that have been taking toll on their infrastructure, ADB has said. They will have to find solution in greener infrastructure to restrict global mean temperature rise, it said. Shattered rail links, fractured roads, broken power lines and ruined water wells are the “distressing facts of life” for many communities in Asia and Pacific, despite countries in the region investing higher than ever on infrastructure, ADB said in an article.
It said: “Increasingly, climate change is the culprit. Its impacts include stronger and more frequent natural disasters, like the deadly floods and landslides that recently affected Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. “Left unchecked, the toll on the region’s infrastructure will grow even higher as climate change escalates.”
Gradual impacts of natural calamities like erosion and encroaching salinity are no less “destructive” which can collapse roads and taint vital water supplies, it said. India’s future infrastructure investment requirements rise to 8.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) when adjusted for climate resilience, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said. It advocated that greener infrastructure will play a key role in restricting global mean temperature increase to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, as mandated under the 2015 Paris Agreement. “This will require larger investments in clean energy, smart grids, better energy storage and efficiency, and where possible carbon capture and storage,” it said.
Climate proofing of infrastructure through elevation of road embankments to safeguard against flooding, relocating water intake and treatment facilities away from vulnerable areas assumes significance, according to ADB. An improved design and maintenance of all infrastructure will have to be well taken care of, it added. According to ADB forecast, mitigation will be costly for Asia Pacific but there are long-term benefits that cannot be ignored.
ADB forecasts that Asia needs to invest USD 1.5 trillion a year in infrastructure from 2016 until 2030 to keep pace with economic growth. “The estimated need rises 16 per cent to more than USD 1.7 trillion a year when climate adaptation and mitigation measures are included. Mitigation costs could tally USD 200 billion annually, while adaptation costs are estimated at USD 41 billion a year, mostly for transport infrastructure,” it said.
ADB said there are long term benefits that cannot be outweighed albeit the huge costs involved. It said disaster and climate resilient infrastructure can be quite cheap, especially compared to the cost of inaction.”Mitigation will be costlier. But it is essential to help blunt the climate impacts that threaten the region’s infrastructure. Fossil fuel consumption contributes more than two-thirds of developing Asia’s total carbon emissions. To stay below the 2 degree threshold, these emissions must be cut by three-quarters,” said the ADB article.