ADB alarms Nepal about climate change risks

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    ADB has identified Nepali population as “extremely vulnerable‚ not only to the immediate threats of increasingly frequent glacial lake overflows‚ landslides‚ flash floods‚ and droughts‚ but also to longer-term climate change.” 

    ADB-GatesKATHMANDU: Climate change-driven events including melting glaciers pose a grave risk to Nepal’s economy, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report. 

    An ADB report titled Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia says the changes can cause losses equal to almost 10% of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100.

    The ADB has identified Nepali population as “extremely vulnerable, not only to the immediate threats of increasingly frequent glacial lake overflows, landslides, flash floods, and droughts, but also to longer-term climate change.”

    According to the report, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka of South Asia will see an average economic loss of 1.8% of their collective GDP every year by 2050. 

    It will further rise to 8.8% in 2100, estimated the Bank.

    “Without changes to current global behavior, Nepal would see economic losses equivalent to up to 2.2% of annual GDP by 2050, widening to 9.9% by the end of the century,” read the report.

    But if mitigation and adaptation steps are taken, the damage could be limited to around 2.4% of GDP by 2100, it added.

    However, Nepal’s agriculture sector will reap some short-term gains from warmer temperatures and melting snow and ice, boosting water supplies, the report said.

    The report warned that melting glaciers pose a risk to both human settlements and hydropower systems as they form high-altitude lakes causing catastrophic flooding downstream. “In mountainous areas, landslides are likely to increase, threatening lives and infrastructure,” said the report.

    Deteriorating and dwindling forests will result in habitat losses for some of the country’s rich flora and fauna, including snow leopards, according to ADB.

    “The cost of climate change adaptation measures in South Asia will depend largely on how the global community tackles the issue,” the report said. It added that if the world continues on its path, the region will need to spend at least $73 billion, or an average of 0.86% of its GDP, every year between now and 2100 to adapt to the negative impacts. 

    “On the other hand, if countries act together to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2.5°C, the cost of South Asia shielding itself from the worst of the impacts would be nearly halved to around $40.6 billion, or 0.48% of GDP,” it suggested.

    The report also suggested measures that countries can adapt in responding to climate threats. They include the use of drought-, flood- and saline-resistant crop varieties, more integrated coastal zone management, increased efficiencies in the energy sector, improved disease and vector surveillance, more protection of groundwater resources and greater use of recycled water.

    Source : The Himalayan Times