Nearly a Billion South Asians Are Vulnerable to Climate Change, Report Finds

A small boy holds up a cardboard cover over his head to protect himself from the sun as he walks on the dried up bed of river Tawi in Jammu, India.
Photo: AP

Because it’s a day that ends with y, we’re learning of yet another threat unchecked climate change poses. Inexorable rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns due to climate change could depress the living standards of nearly half of South Asians by 2050.

That’s according to a new first-of-its-kind report by the World Bank that quantified the economic costs of climate change across different parts of South Asia, one of the world’s poorest regions. It concluded that more than 800 million South Asians live in “hotspots” that will bear the brunt of climate change’s effects if emissions continue unchecked.


The authors define these hotspots as “areas where changes in average weather will adversely affect living standards.” The most severe hotspots face prospect of a decline in living standards of up to eight percent, according to the report. For instance, as climate change makes severe weather events like heat waves 
more frequent and more intense, these can dampen agricultural productivity, taking a toll on households that depend on it as the primary source of income.

“Climate changes will impact you based on where you live and what you do,” Muthukumara Mani, economist at the World Bank and main author of the report, told Reuters.

By 2050, India is projected to be one of the worst affected countries. One in every two Indians could see their living standards depressed with the country’s overall gross domestic product (GDP) eroded 2.8 percent, per the report.

To reach these numbers, the report analyzed data on how weather impacts living standards along with a range of climate models. A “climate sensitive” scenario assumes widespread dogged efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, while a “carbon intensive” scenario assumes no action at all.


There’s still an inkling of hope that the impact of climate change on living standards can be reduced. The report suggests a suite of interventions to implement in these climate “hotspots, ” including the promotion of efficient energy, water, and agriculture use. Identifying where the hotspots are is an important first step.

And at least all countries in South Asia are tethered to reality (unlike some of us) by being part of the Paris Climate Agreement.


[h/t Reuters]

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