Severe weather conditions becoming a norm for Vietnam and other Asian countries

By Ha Phuong, Reuters   July 14, 2017 | 09:00 am PT
What happens when you heat the planet up?

Vietnam is suffering from more adverse weather events than ever before, and the country endured its most severe drought in a century and downpours that caused severe floods over the past year.

The Mekong Delta, Vietnam's rice basket, is among the most flood-prone areas in Asia, and half of it is projected to be swallowed by the floods by the end of this century.

Climate change has been blamed for a series of severe weather conditions seen across the Asian region, and many warn that they could become more common.

A new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) outlines the dramatic changes Asia-Pacific nations face if measures to curb climate change and adapt to its effects are too slow and unambitious to keep global warming within agreed limits.

If the world carries on emitting greenhouse gases as now, and international cooperation to limit climate change fails, average temperatures will rise by over 4 degrees Celsius (4C) compared with preindustrial times by the end of the century, the report warned.

Floods, reef loss and migration may just be the beginning of Asia’s future on a hotter planet.

By 2030, even in the most favorable scenario for low carbon emissions, Vietnam may face a loss of $20.8 billion in gross domestic product, eight times higher than the loss now if no flood protection is implemented. Floods will have negative impacts on at least 2.6 million Vietnamese per year, as estimated by the Aqueduct Global Flood Analyzer.

Here are some of the potential impacts

All coral reef systems in Asia-Pacific would collapse due to mass coral bleaching with a 4C rise. This could lead to losses of almost $58 billion in reef-related fisheries in Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2050.

- Even if global warming is limited to 2C as pledged in the Paris climate pact, almost all coral reefs are expected to experience severe bleaching.

- Sea levels may rise by 1.4 meters (4.6 ft) if temperatures increase by 4C.

- Nineteen of the 25 cities most exposed to a 1-meter sea-level rise globally are located in Asia-Pacific, seven of them in the Philippines alone.

- Indonesia would be the Asian country worst-affected by coastal flooding, with about 6 million people expected to be hit each year until 2100.

- With a 4C temperature rise, annual precipitation is expected to increase by up to 50 percent over most land areas in the region, while some nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan may experience a 20-50 percent decline in rainfall.

- 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.

- Rice yields in some Southeast Asian countries could decline by up to 50 percent by 2100 if no climate change adaptation efforts are made.

- Heat-related deaths among people aged over 65 could rise annually by 52,000 cases by 2050.

- The six places particularly prone to future migration linked to climate change are Bangladesh, Philippines, China, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the Indus Delta in Pakistan and small island states in the Pacific.

Sources: ADB, PIK, World Health Organization

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