Climatic Change: Asia Worst Affected

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 20 2007 6:36 PM

Already burdened with food shortages and more than half the continent's four billion people inhabiting vulnerable coasts, Asia will bear the brunt of the effects of global warming.

It reports on the growing scientific consensus that all of Asia will warm during this century, and the results could be less predictable rainfall and monsoons affecting the food supply while tropical cyclones such as the one that devastated Bangladesh last week become more frequent or powerful.

"Bangladesh features prominently in the report as a country where millions of poor people, eking out a living on farmlands and coastal areas, are already bearing the brunt of man-made climate change," said Oxfam International's Bert Maerten.

"Asia - Up in Smoke" was released as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded its fourth assessment synthesis report in Valencia, Spain, and ahead of United Nations talks next month in Bali to determine an international response to climate change. The report has some dire data on Asia, where more than half the population lives near coastlines that are directly vulnerable to rises in sea level.

It notes that Asia is home to 87 percent of the world's known 400 million small farms, which are all especially vulnerable to climate change because they rely on regular rainfall.

An increase of just one degree Celsius in night time temperatures during the growing season will reduce Asian rice yields by 10 percent, while wheat production could fall by 32 percent by 2050.

The sudden expansion of bio-fuel crops in Asia is worsening deforestation and could exacerbate global warming and threaten local people's livelihoods, the report warned.

Small island states like Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu in the Pacific have already fallen victim to rising sea level, and entire nations are at risk.

In Bangladesh, where 70 percent of people rely on farming, temperature and rainfall changes have already affected crop production.

In India there have been recent floods affecting 28 million people and widespread droughts in some Indian states.

"If no action is taken, 30 percent of Indian food production could be lost," said "Asia - Up in Smoke".

It warns that by the end of this century, China could suffer a 37 percent loss in its staple crops of wheat, rice and corn, if no action is taken.

The report gives detailed analysis on the implications of climate change for poor people living in Bangladesh, Central Asia, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor, the Lower Mekong and Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan and the Pacific Islands.

The report recommends that the international community commit to meaningful and mandatory emissions cuts to ensure that global temperature increase stays below two degrees Celsius.

It argues that rich countries must honour their commitments to renewable energy and that the potential for its use across Asia is vast.

"India alone has the potential to provide 60 percent of its electricity with renewable sources by 2050," the report said.

Rich countries must stop using restrictive intellectual property rules and allow the transfer of green technologies to developing countries, said the report.

"We know more than enough to act. Decisions taken in Bali must match the scale of ambition required by the IPCC's findings," said Athena Ballesteros of Greenpeace International.

The report called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit being held in Singapore through Wednesday to put climate change on its agenda.

"If Asean intends to be relevant to the region's needs, it must support a Bali Mandate for the extension and expansion of the Kyoto Protocol towards a second commitment period with deeper emissions cuts," Ballesteros said.

Greenpeace is calling on Asean to establish clear, binding renewables and energy efficiency targets for Southeast Asia.