India’s population along low- elevation coastlines is expected to witness a three-fold rise in the coming decades, says a new report on how climate change will bring devastating consequences to nations in Asia and Pacific. According to the report, the projected population in Low-Elevation Coastal Zones (LECZ) in 2000 is 63.9 million. This is, however, projected to increase to 216.4 million by 2060, the report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) claims. Under a business-as-usual scenario, a six degree Celsius temperature increase is projected over the Asian land mass 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 eight degree Celsius, it says. The report titled ‘A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific’ says that 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 per cent over most land areas in the region, although countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan may experience a decline in rainfall by 20-50 per cent.
Coastal and low-lying areas in the region will be at an increased risk of flooding, it says, adding that 19 of the 25 cities most exposed to a one-meter sea-level rise are located in the region, seven of which are in the Philippines alone. The report says that Indonesia 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, the report notes. “Global flood losses are expected to increase to USD 52 billion per year by 2050 from USD 6 billion in 2005,” it says. It adds that 13 of the top 20 cities with the largest growth of annual flood losses from 2005-2050 are in Asia and the Pacific namely 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).
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 concludes.