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Environment

FACTBOX: Main points from ADB climate change study for SE Asia

(Reuters) - Climate change threatens Southeast Asia’s huge coastal cities and could slash crop output and access to clean water, triggering conflicts unless the region adapts and cuts its carbon emissions, an ADB report concludes.

Following are some of the main points of an Asian Development Bank report funded by the British-government that examines the threat from climate change in Southeast Asia and what the region can do about it.

The 250-page report, “The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review,” focuses on the impact on the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and is billed as the largest regional report of its type.

THE REGION

Southeast Asia comprises nearly 600 million people and the region was responsible for 12 percent of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2000.

Major sources were the land-use change and forestry at 75 percent, energy at 15 percent and agriculture at 8 percent.

The region has more than 170,000 kilometers (105,000 miles) of coastline and tens of millions live in rapidly growing coastal cities vulnerable to rising seas.

About 80 per cent of the population live within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of the coast, leading to an over-concentration of economic activity and livelihoods in coastal mega cities.

THE THREAT

Climate change is already affecting Southeast Asia, with higher temperatures, decreasing rainfall, rising sea levels, greater frequency and intensity of extreme weather events leading to massive flooding, landslides and drought.

Climate change is also exacerbating the problem of water stress, affecting agricultural production, triggering forest fires, damaging coastal marine resources, and increasing outbreaks of infectious diseases.

THE FUTURE

If no action is taken to cut greenhouse emissions globally, annual mean temperature is projected to rise 4.8C on average by 2100 from 1990 in Southeast Asia. Mean sea level is projected to rise by 70 cm during the same period.

Rice yield could decline by up to 50 percent on average by 2100 compared to 1990 in the four countries; and a large part of the dominant forest/woodland could be replaced by tropical savanna and shrub with low or no carbon sequestration potential.

Food insecurity and loss of livelihood are likely to be exacerbated further by the loss of arable land and fisheries to inundation and coastal erosion in low-lying areas. More people will be at risk of hunger and malnutrition. The possibility of local conflicts may increase.

The potential economic cost of inaction is huge. The cost to these countries each year could equal a loss of 6.7 percent of their combined gross domestic product by 2100, more than twice the world average.

WHAT CAN BE DONE

Southeast Asia is among the regions with the greatest potential for mitigating carbon dioxide by reducing deforestation and improving land management practices.

It also has untapped opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and increasing the use of renewable energy, including biomass, solar, wind, hydro and geothermal.

The report urges Southeast Asian countries to treat climate change adaptation as a key part of development polices, such as adapting agricultural practices to changes in temperature and precipitation and adapting water management to greater risk of floods and droughts.

Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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