Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bangladesh and India Among Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Bangladesh and India, along with several South East Asian and African nations, are the most vulnerable to climate change, while the United States, Canada and Western Europe are the least vulnerable, according to a recently-published assessment by Standard and Poor credit rating service.  The rich industrialized nations which have contribute the most to climate change are the least vulnerable to its disastrous effects now. The report says Pakistan and China are relatively less vulnerable than India and Bangladesh.

Source: Standard and Poor Global Portal


There are two basic reasons why poor countries are bearing the brunt of climate change: geography and poverty. Most of the red countries on the Standard and Poor map lie near the equator, where climate change-caused storms, flooding, and droughts will be more intense, according to media reports.  India is particularly vulnerable because of its rising population and depleting resources.

India is ranked 33rd and Pakistan 39th among the most overcrowded nations of the world by Overpopulation Index published by the Optimum Population Trust based in the United Kingdom. The index measures overcrowding based on the size of the population and the resources available to sustain it.

India has a dependency percentage of 51.6 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.77. The index calculates that India is overpopulated by 594.32 million people. Pakistan has a dependency percentage of 49.9 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.75. The index calculates that Pakistan is overpopulated by 80 million people. Pakistan is less crowded than China (ranked 29), India (ranked 33) and the US (ranked 35), according to the index. Singapore is the most overcrowded and Bukina Faso the least on a list of 77 nations assessed by the Optimum Population Trust.

Standard and Poor has ranked 116 nations according to their vulnerability across three indicators: proportion of population living lower than 5 meters (16 feet) above sea-level, share of agriculture in economic output and a vulnerability index compiled by Notre Dame University. It ranks India at 101 and Pakistan at 94 while Bangladesh is ranked at 114 along with Vietnam at 115 and Cambodia at 116 as the most vulnerable among 116 countries. China is ranked at 82. Among African countries listed as most vulnerable are Senegal (113), Mozambique (112) and Nigeria (109).

Standard and Poor's analysts led by Moritz Karemer warned that global warming “will put downward pressure on sovereign ratings during the remainder of this century,” “The degree to which individual countries and societies are going to be affected by warming and changing weather patterns depends largely on actions undertaken by other, often far-away societies.”

Both India and Pakistan have seen recurring droughts and massive flooding in recent years which have resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries in addition to property losses. India has seen one farmer commit suicide every 30 minutes over the last two decades.

The fact is that the developing countries facing huge costs from climate change can do little to control it without significant help from the rich industrialized nations most responsible for it.  The World Bank is warning that this could lead to massive increases in disease, extreme storms, droughts, and flooding. Unless concerted action is taken soon, the World Bank President Jim Kim fears that the effects of climate change could roll back "decades of development gains and force tens of more millions of people to live in poverty."

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Rising Population and Depleting Resources

Recurring Droughts and Flooding in Pakistan

An Indian Farmer Commits Suicide Every 30 Minutes 

Growing Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Political Patronage in Pakistan

Corrupt and Incompetent Politicians

Pakistan's Energy Crisis

Culture of Tax Evasion and Aid Dependence

Climate Change in South Asia

US Senate Report on Avoiding Water Wars in Central and South Asia

4 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Apart from damaging public health and crop cultivation, heavy fog mainly created by hazardous emissions from the coal-based Indian steel mills are causing a loss of $2 billion annually to Pakistan’s aviation industry.

The Sindh coast doesn’t face the threat of complete drowning from the intruding sea by 2060 as was recently reported in the press, but there are all indications that Pakistan would be seriously impacted by changes in weather conditions, which would become more intense in the coming years. Building dams could help Pakistan prevent flooding.

These were some important points highlighted by deputy director general of the meteorological department Dr Ghulam Rasool at a press briefing held on Saturday. It was arranged by Green Media Initiative in collaboration with the Karachi Press Club.

Speaking to journalists, Dr Rasool said that though Pakistan’s case was briefly discussed in last year’s report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists in the country had detailed information on climate change that would impact the country in the coming years.

“Pakistan ranks 10th among countries that would suffer the most from climate change. Every aspect of the phenomenon would impact us. Our coasts are now more vulnerable to tropical cyclones as their intensity would increase in the Arabian Sea and reduce in the Bay of Bengal,” he said, adding that sea level rise would contribute to sea intrusion.

According to Dr Rasool, of the total 8,123 glaciers in Pakistan, only 8,000 are advancing while the rest are reducing. The Siachen Glacier is the fastest melting glacier in the world. The deployment of armed forces of both Pakistan and India in that region is also contributing to decline in the ice mass.

“The change in monsoon pattern would aggravate flooding in rivers. Although intense monsoon would be experienced in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, flooding would occur in Sindh and Balochistan that might be experiencing a dry spell at that time,” he said.

Late, early or prolonged onset of monsoon, he said, would badly impact cultivation.

“Tarbela and Mangla are our only water reservoirs. Their water storage capacity has already reduced by 35pc due to silt deposits,” he said.

He favoured smaller dams but said that they couldn’t work in heavy rain scenarios. “It is up to us how we make use of that water. Either we let it flood and devastate our land and people, or conserve it.”

He rejected press reports on the submergence of Karachi, Thatta and Badin by 2060 and said there was no scientific basis for that statement. “But, sea level rise would contribute to sea intrusion and affect land agricultural productivity.”

On Karachi, he said that the city had expanded out of proportion and there was a need that the government banned its further expansion and established another city to house more people.

Trans-boundary pollution, he told the audience, was spreading. “It’s the wind blowing from the east to the west that brings pollutants to Pakistan and then these coal emissions spread to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and (now) Sukkur,” he said.

The hazardous emissions, he said, were affecting the aviation industry, public health and crop cultivation.

“The fog gets intense during January and December and is broken only with a rain spell. The cloud cover prevents plants to carry out photosynthesis,” he said.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1163622

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is planning to submit its plans for tackling climate change to the United Nations by September this year as the country’s Ministry of Climate Change is finalising the INDC (intended nationally determined contributions) draft.

In an exclusive interview with the RTCC, federal minister for climate change Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan said that Pakistan’s INDC would mainly focus on mitigation and adaptation in six sectors including energy, transport, agriculture, forestry, industry and waste.

“How much will we mitigate and what will be our carbon emission level is still under consideration,” he said. “We will submit our INDC by September and reveal exact targets as soon as prime minister Nawaz Sharif approves the draft.”

The INDCs are the commitments that are required from more than 190 countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for addressing climate change beyond 2020. The proposals are intended to set the stage for the negotiation of a new global climate pact in Paris, in December 2015.

Pakistan is finalising its INDC with technical support from World Bank, Lead-Pakistan, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) and Pakistan Center for Climate Research and Development (CCRD).

Climate tracker: Who has pledged what for Paris summit?

The minister said that Pakistan remains to be one of the most vulnerable countries to adverse impacts of the climate change like floods, droughts, climate and weather variability; therefore effective adaptation measures will also be part of the INDC.

“The biggest challenge for Pakistan is to ensure survival of floods and droughts affectees and traditional crop patterns,” he said, adding Pakistan is a glacier-fed country and it would be facing severe water shortages and flooding in the next 25 to 50 years.

Pakistan suffered over US$25 billion loss in economic damages to public infrastructure, agriculture, irrigation network, health and educational facilities from five consecutive floods since 2010, he said. “We now need over 35 billion dollars to recover these damages.”

The minister said Pakistan needs support of rich countries to cope with the adverse impacts of the climate change as the country requires US$10-15 billion annually to ensure mitigation and adaptation measures.

“We urge the developed countries that are in fact polluting the world through their industries to extend financial support to Pakistan besides transferring technology and capacity building in climate change related fields,” he said.

- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/05/fears-of-floods-and-droughts-dominate-pakistan-climate-plan/#sthash.cliqJUGI.dpuf

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - Is #India facing its worst-ever #water crisis? #Ganges #Farakka #Bangladesh #climatechange http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35888535 …

On 11 March, panic struck engineers at a giant power station on the banks of the Ganges river in West Bengal state.
Readings showed that the water level in the canal connecting the river to the plant was going down rapidly. Water is used to produce steam to run the turbines and for cooling vital equipment of coal-fired power stations.
By next day, authorities were forced to suspend generation at the 2,300-megawatt plant in Farakka town causing shortages in India's power grid. Next, the vast township on the river, where more than 1,000 families of plant workers live, ran out of water. Thousands of bottles of packaged drinking water were distributed to residents, and fire engines rushed to the river to extract water for cooking and cleaning.
'Shortage of water'
The power station - one of the 41 run by the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation, which generates a quarter of India's electricity - was shut for 10 days, unprecedented in its 30-year history.
"Never before have we shut down the plant because of a shortage of water," says Milan Kumar, a senior plant official.
"We are being told by the authorities that water levels in the river have receded, and that they can do very little."
Further downstream, say locals, ferries were suspended and sandbars emerged on the river. Some 13 barges carrying imported coal to the power station were stranded midstream because of insufficient water. Children were seen playing on a near-dry river bed.

Nobody is sure why the water level on the Ganges receded at Farakka, where India built a barrage in the 1970s to divert water away from Bangladesh. Much later, in the mid-1990s, the countries signed a 30-year agreement to share water. (The precipitous decline in water levels happened during a 10-day cycle when India is bound by the pact to divert most of the water to Bangladesh. The fall in level left India with much less water than usual.)
Monsoon rains have been scanty in India for the second year in succession. The melting of snow in the Himalayas - the mountain holds the world's largest body of ice outside the polar caps and contributes up to 15% of the river flow - has been delayed this year, says SK Haldar, general manager of the barrage. "There are fluctuations like this every year," he says.
'Filthy river'
But the evidence about the declining water levels and waning health of the 2,500km (1,553 miles)-long Ganges, which supports a quarter of India's 1.3 billion people, is mounting.
Part of a river's water level is determined by the groundwater reserves in the area drained by it and the duration and intensity of monsoon rains. Water tables have been declining in the Ganges basin due to the reckless extraction of groundwater. Much of the groundwater is, anyway, already contaminated with arsenic and fluoride. A controversial UN climate report said the Himalayan glaciers could melt to a fifth of the current levels by 2035.
Emmanuel Theophilus and his son, Theo, kayaked on the Ganges during their 87-day, 2,500km journey of India's rivers last year. They asked fishermen and people living on the river what had changed most about it.

"All of them said there had been a reduction in water levels over the years. Also when we were sailing on the Ganges, we did not find a single turtle. The river was so dirty that it stank. There were effluents, sewage and dead bodies floating," says Mr Theophilus.
The waning health of the sacred river underscores the rising crisis of water in India. Two successive bad monsoons have already led to a drought-like situation, and river basins are facing water shortages.
Water conflicts
T

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - BBC Pop Up: A lack of #water and #wives in #India. #Drought #FemaleGenocide #Women

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36104869

"Who would give their daughter to this village?" That's the question posed by one man in an Indian village devastated by an ongoing drought in the country.
The majority of young men in Gopipur, in the Chitrakoot district about 400 miles south of New Delhi, say that the shortage of water, and its crippling impact on the local economy, has made it harder for them to get married.
It's one of the unexpected social consequences of a drought that the Indian government now says is affecting at least 330 million Indians.
BBC Pop Up went to the community where nearly 5,000 people rely on a small naturally-fed well for drinking and bathing water.