Climate change can dent South Asia’s economic growth

Climate changeSouth Asia’s fight against poverty will be severely handicapped if these countries do not address issues of climate change with urgency, says a new report by Asian Development Bank.

According to the report titled “Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia”, released on August 19, climate change will reduce South Asia’s growth by almost 9 percent by 2100, unless governments take urgent measures to counter global warming in the immediate future.

The report also suggests that the cost of addressing climate change will rise as time passes. “The added hazards from global climate change will affect them [South Asia] the most, making their escape from poverty even more difficult,” said the ADB.

Given the rising sea level and dramatically altered seasonal patterns, the South Asian region is also most vulnerable to natural disasters. According to the report, between 1990 and 2008, more than 750 million people of the 1.5 billion people in South Asia were affected by at least one natural disaster.

In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses, Maldives is set to be hit the hardest with 12.6 percent of its GDP disappearing; the numbers are equally high for other countries in the region as well: 9.9 percent for Nepal, 9.4 per cent for Bangladesh and 8.7 per cent for India by 2100.

The report also estimates that increasing temperatures will severely impact predominantly agrarian economies, and could reduce rice production in India and Bangladesh.

“Agriculture provides employment and livelihood opportunities to most of India’s rural population and changes in temperature and rainfall, and an increase in floods and droughts linked to climate change, would have a devastating impact on people’s food security, incomes, and lives,” said ADB vice-president Bindu Lohani. The report also projected that the supply for water in India may exceed demand by over 40 percent in the coming decades.

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