03 Apr Unpredictable future of Asia: the worst climate change is yet to come
Climate change is already altering nature and the livelihoods of humans according to the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for policymakers released on 31 March 2014. It has emphasised that the impact and dangers of global warming are expected to worsen rapidly if countries cannot control carbon emissions.
Rising sea levels are threatening the regional economy of low-lying coastal cities around the world. Ice glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, disrupting water supplies to farmers and cities. The new IPCC report also warns of increasing damage to crops due to climatic and land-use changes. This phenomenon will become rampant in key agri-commodity production countries, causing food crises and global price spikes.
Investments in clean technologies and climate finance already exist, yet are insufficient to prepare for the future when the worst climate change occurs. As such, low-carbon investment schemes must be scaled up and must be aligned with the IPCC scientific findings not only to curb carbon emissions but also to cope with the enormous risks of climate change.
Rising world temperatures are also likely to worsen air quality in Asian cities that are rapidly expanding. Hot days and droughts will last for a longer period of time, preventing the cities from cooling down. The report follows the World Health Organization’s recent finding that air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk, killing almost 7 million people in 2012, accounting for one in eight of total global deaths.
Asia is becoming the world’s fastest growing centre of global air pollution. The haze and forest fires in Southeast Asia are expected to be more intense and severely affected by variable weather patterns. The pollution cloud undermines the quality of urban life in the region and threatens the regional economy if nothing is done immediately. The future of Asia will therefore depend on how proactive cities are in coping with climate change not just by imposing rules but also through multi-stakeholder cooperation.
Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come [The New York Times, 31 March 2014]
Pollution Killed 7 Million People Worldwide in 2012, Report Finds [The New York Times, 25 March 2014]