Global Warming Impact in South Asia

At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.

The South Asian governments are sufficiently concerned about potential effects of global warming to warrant a meeting to hammer out a regional response. South Asian experts on climate change are beginning two days of talks in Dhaka today, ahead of a meeting of environment ministers from countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). According to Reuters, Bangladesh has proposed the creation of a fund to fight climate change in densely populated South Asia, which experts say is vulnerable to rising seas, melting glaciers and greater extremes of droughts and floods. For the rich South Asians thinking of fleeing to real estate in Dubai, the forecast for the GCC countries is no better. Experts believe the Palm and the World projects in Dubai will disappear underwater in 50 years if the issue of climate change fails to be addressed by governments.

The nonprofit Worldwatch Institute has compiled a list of 21 "mega-cities" of 8 million people or more that are in direct danger as a result of global warming and rising seas: They include Dhaka, Bangladesh; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai and Tianjin in China; Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe in Japan; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Bangkok, Thailand, and New York and Los Angeles in the United States, according to studies by the United Nations and others.

More than one-tenth of the world's population, or 643 million people, live in low-lying areas at risk from climate change, according to U.S. and European experts. Most at risk, in descending order, are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the U.S., Thailand and the Philippines.

As a nation, Bangladesh has the most to worry about the effects of climate change in South Asia. A recent story in the Guardian talks about Bangladesh as "flood-prone" because of its geography. Situated across a vast delta where three great rivers join, Bangladesh is known to be flood-prone. Not only does it have monsoon rain to deal with, but the slow warming of the earth's atmosphere is releasing more water from Himalayan glaciers above the flatlands of Bangladesh. Climate change, say scientists, also means higher tides in the Bay of Bengal. The result is trillions more liters of water sloshing over the country, depositing billions of tons of sediment. Experts say a third of Bangladesh's coastline could be flooded if the Bay of Bengal rises three feet in the next 50 years, displacing 20 million Bangladeshis from their homes and farms, according to Reuters. Across the region, warmer weather could cause more intense and more frequent cyclones and storm surges, leading to more salt water fouling waterways and farmlands, the experts said. Corp yields in South Asia could decrease up to 30 percent by the mid-21st century, they added.

Bangladesh has taken the initiative by proposing a SAARC fund for climate change and allocated US$44 million for this purpose in its current fiscal year budget. "We want to find a common stand among the South Asian countries and will raise our voice together against the perils of climate changes," said Raja Devasish Roy, head of the Environment and Forest Ministry of Bangladesh, after opening the experts' meeting in Dhaka today. Devasish said industrialized countries were the most to blame for global warming and should compensate poorer nations by providing them grants -- not loans -- to fight the effects of climate change.

While Bangladesh is admirably leading the charge to address the impact of climate change, it is important that the rest of South Asians, particularly India and Pakistan, join it to protect the planet in this noble effort. As part of this challenge, it is time for SAARC leaders to think of structural changes needed for a world without oil. The SAARC nations owe it to their future generations and the rest of the planet.

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on Pakistan climate change policy:

Disaster-prone Pakistan has launched its first ever national policy on climate change, detailing how it plans to tackle the challenges posed by global warming, mitigate its risks and adapt key sectors of the country's economy to cope with its consequences.

Pakistan is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters such as cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides and avalanches. Devastating floods in 2010 disrupted the lives of 20 million people – many more than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – and cost $10 billion.

The climate change policy, developed with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recommends some 120 steps the country could take to slow down the impact of global warming, as well as adapt sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.

Measures include flood forecasting warning systems, local rainwater harvesting, developing new varieties of resilient crops, promoting renewable energy sources and more efficient public transport.

"The National Climate Change policy takes into account risks and vulnerabilities of various development sectors with specific emphasis on water, food, energy and national security issues," said Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Minister for Climate Change at the launch of the policy is Islamabad on Tuesday.

But the policy needs a concrete action plan to back it up, with details, budgets and timelines first, some newspaper commentators said, adding that only then could there be a chance of effective implementation.

Questions have also arisen about where the money to fund implementation will come from and whether Pakistan's provinces have the capacity and expertise to put it in place.

Last year, a major U.N. report said the world needed to prepare better to deal with extreme weather and rising seas caused by climate change, in order to save lives and limit deepening economic losses.
UNDP's Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche said addressing changing weather patterns would help the country's economic development.

"Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks and mechanisms need to be devised for greener, more resilient options for growth and sustainable development, said Franche at the launch.

"I hope the policy will help key stakeholders in identifying capacities and skills for the successful implementation of the policy," he added.


http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/pakistan-launches-first-national-climate-change-policy

http://undp.org.pk/images/documents/National%20Climate%20Change%20Policy%20of%20Pakistan.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a World Bank report titled "Turn Down the Heat" released today:

The projected increase in the seasonality of precipitation is associated with an increase in the number of dry days, leading to droughts that are amplified by continued warming, with adverse consequences for human lives. Droughts are
expected to pose an increasing risk in parts of the region.
Although drought projections are made difficult by uncertain
precipitation projections and differing drought indicators, some
regions emerge to be at particularly high risk. These include north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over southern India, increasing wetness is projected with broad agreement
between climate models.


http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/14/000333037_20130614104709/Rendered/PDF/784220WP0Engli0D0CONF0to0June019090.pdf

Here's more from Daily Times:

The report has been prepared for the WB by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide.

The report said that unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

“Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place,” the report said.

A warming climate will contribute to slowing the reduction in poverty, while the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the impacts of progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor.

Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers. In cities, the poor will suffer with temperatures magnified by the so-called ‘heat island effect’ of the built environments.

Safe drinking water will become increasingly constrained and alternatives, especially during and after flooding, are likely to contribute to greater water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

The report cited Bangladesh, already threatened by frequent floods and extreme weather, as just one of more ‘potential impact hotspots’ threatened by extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures.

India’s two largest coastal cities, Kolkata and Mumbai, face a similar fate.

With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimeters. Pakistan would suffer the most extreme increases in heat. .


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C06%5C20%5Cstory_20-6-2013_pg5_5

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