A world where climate is changing the way it is presently doing poses three main risks for Asia, according to the scientists who studied impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability for the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report (AR5), which was presented at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City on Wednesday.
At the same time, government leaders to whom the report is targeted have an opportunity to minimize the impacts of these risks, the scientists say.
Risk 1: Increased riverside, coastal, and urban flooding leading to widespread damage to infrastructure, livelihoods, and settlements.
The first risk is driven by extreme precipitation, damaging cyclones, and sea level rise.
Government leaders can reduce their constituents’ exposure to this risk through effective land use planning and selective relocation of at-risk populations, among others.
They can also exert efforts to reduce the vulnerability of lifeline infrastructure and services, such as water, energy, waste management, food, biomass, mobility, local ecosystems, and telecommunications.
Another thing they can look at is the construction of monitoring and early warning systems, as well as measures to identify areas exposed to these risks, help vulnerable areas and households to adapt or cope, and diversify livelihoods.
Risk 2: Increased heat-related deaths.
The second risk includes warming trends and extreme temperature.
Government leaders can look into heat health warning systems.
They can also strengthen urban planning in order to reduce heat islands, or areas which are much hotter than their neighbors.
They can improve what has already been built, and develop sustainable cities, explore new work practices to avoid heat stress among outdoor workers, as well.
Risk 3: Increased drought-related water and food shortage, causing malnutrition.
The third risk is driven by warming trends, extreme temperature, and drying trends.
Government leaders can focus on disaster preparedness, which includes early-warning systems and local coping strategies.
They can also go into adaptive/integrated water resource management, strengthening water infrastructure and reservoir development.
They can diversify water sources as well, and consider reusing water and using water more efficiently by improving agricultural practices and managing irrigation, among others.
Meanwhile, one of the Filipino volunteer scientists for IPCC, Dr. Rodel Lasco, said that many regions in Asia would experience a decline in food productivity as higher temperatures lead to lower rice yields.
Lasco pointed out that there are a number of Asian regions already approaching the heat stress limits for rice.
Sea level rise would also inundate low-lying areas, and affect rice-growing regions.
While it may be likely that the Philippines could experience fewer or unchanged number of tropical cyclones over the 21st century, their intensity (or the maximum wind speed and rainfall rates) is likely to increase.
“Preparation for extreme tropical cyclone events through improved governance and development provides an avenue for building resilience to longer term changes associated with climate change,” he said.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>