World Bank report:
Climate change may impact economic development
The rising possibility of a warmer world in the next two decades is
magnifying the development challenges South East Asia is already
struggling with, and threatens to reverse hard-won development gains,
according to a new scientific report released by the World Bank Group.
'Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case
for Resilience', was prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam
Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics. It builds
on a World Bank report released late last year, which concluded that the
world would warm by four degrees Celsius (4°C) above pre-industrial
levels by the end of this century without concerted action now.
The new report looks at the likely impact of present day (0.8°C), 2°C
and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal
ecosystems and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South
East Asia. “This new report outlines an alarming scenario for the days
and years ahead – what we could face in our lifetime,” said World Bank
Group President, Jim Yong Kim.
“Scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which
may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food
shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones.
In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could
greatly harm the lives and hopes of individuals and families who have
had little hand in raising the Earth's temperature.”
The report has synthesised the most current peer-reviewed literature
and supplements it with computer modeling. It described two scenarios:
an extreme 4ºC warming and a more modest 2ºC warming.
The report has revealed how rising global temperatures are
increasingly threatening the health and livelihoods of the most
vulnerable populations. In Sub-Saharan Africa, food shortages will
become more common, while in South Asia, shifting rain patterns will
leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power
generation, irrigation or drinking.
In South East Asia, the degradation and loss of coral reefs will
diminish tourism, reduce fish stocks, and leave coastal communities and
cities more vulnerable to storms.
Countries in the South East Asia region are particularly vulnerable
to sea-level rise, increases in heat extremes, increased intensity of
tropical cyclones, and ocean warming and acidification because many are
archipelagoes within a tropical cyclone belt and have relatively high
coastal population densities.
“Many South East Asian countries are already taking concerted action
to meet the impact of climate change, but this report tells us that we
need to do much more.
We need to intensify and accelerate these actions to reduce the
ever-increasing vulnerability of populations to climate risk, especially
the poor and vulnerable,” said World Bank Vice President for East Asia
and Pacific, Axel van Trotsenburg.
The report examined the most significant climate risks for South East
Asia in a 2ºC world: Sea levels are rising faster than previously
projected and cyclones will intensify. The report found that a sea-level
rise of as much as 50 cm by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a
result of past emissions, and in some cases, impacts could be felt much
This will cause greater destruction and result in flooding fields for
extended periods, and inundate delta areas with intrusions of salt water
into fields and in groundwater used for drinking. The report also
projected that typhoons will increase in intensity (category 4 and 5).
The three river deltas of the Mekong, Irrawaddy and the Chao Phraya,
all with significant land areas below 2m above sea level, are
particularly at risk. Agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, and tourism
are the most exposed sectors to climate change in these deltas. Coastal
cities, with their concentration of increasingly large populations and
physical assets, are also highly exposed to increased storm intensity,
long-term sea-level rise, and sudden onset of coastal flooding.
Projections indicate that all coral reefs in South East Asia are likely
to experience severe stress by the year 2050, hurting marine fisheries,
tourism and livelihoods. There are about 138 million people living on
coasts and within 30 kms of a coral reef who are likely to suffer major
social, economic and nutritional impacts as a result of climate change.
Rural and coastal livelihoods are threatened. The report projects
that fish stocks in the Java Sea and the Gulf of Thailand will suffer
due to increased water temperature and decreased oxygen levels, with
large reductions in average maximum fish body size by 2050.“Countries
need support to help re-orient their development plans so that climate
change is factored into their planning process to build on efforts
already underway. The Government of Vietnam has sought Bank support to
respond to the challenges of climate change and the opportunity to shift
to climate resilient, low-carbon growth, and the Philippines has enacted
a Climate Change Act and a National Disaster Risk Reduction and
Management law that marks a big improvement in how the country deals
with the challenge of climate change,” said van Trotsenburg.
The evidence presented in the 'Turn Down the Heat' series
demonstrates the importance of the World Bank Group’s climate change
mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work to development
and poverty reduction. The Bank is helping 130 countries across the
globe take action on climate change. Last year, it doubled its financial
support for adaptation – from 2.3 billion in fiscal year 2011 to 4.6
billion in fiscal year 2012. Increasingly the Bank is supporting action
on the ground to finance the kind of projects that help the poor grow
their way out of poverty, increase their resilience and reduce