The study focused on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, which also have large coastal populations facing rising sea levels. The bank said the key for south-east Asia would be protecting its remaining tropical forests. Deforestation represents as much as 75% of the four countries’ carbon emissions.
“Climate change seriously threatens south-east Asia’s families, food supplies and financial prosperity,” said Ursula Schäfer-Preuss, the bank’s vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development. “If south-east Asian nations delay action on climate change, their economies and people will ultimately suffer.”
Without action to combat global warming, the report said, the four Asian countries would see temperatures rise an average 4.8° Celsius from the 1990 level by 2100. The countries also would be likely to suffer declines in rainfall, leading to worsening droughts and more forest fires. More destructive tropical storms and flooding from rising seas could displace millions of people and lead to the destruction of 2,500 square kilometers of mangroves, which help to protect coastlines.
If only climate change’s impact on markets is considered, according to the report, the economic cost would be 2.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. With health costs and biodiversity losses factored in, the cost would be 5.7% of GDP – and 6.7% if losses from climate-related disasters also are included. That far exceeds the projected cost globally of climate change, estimated at 2.6% of gross domestic product each year by the end of the century.
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