The Sunday Leader

‘SL Among Countries To Be Worst Hit By Climate Change’

Sri Lanka is among the countries expected to be worst affected by climate change, with adverse effects on all sectors of the economy, increasing the country’s vulnerability and threatening its overall growth and development, says the Asian Development Bank in its publication ‘Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia’.

Highlighting the aspects such as the sea level rise, higher temperatures, enhanced monsoon precipitation and runoff, more intense tropical cyclones and storm surges, floods, droughts, and salinity intrusion experienced over the recent past, the ADB says the country’s geophysical and socio-economic characteristics tend to exacerbate the impacts of these phenomena.

Overall, the climate change will slash up to 9% off the South Asian economy every year by the end of this century if the world continues on its current fossil-fuel intensive path. The human and financial toll could be even higher if the damage from floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events is included, adds the ADB.

The simultaneous objectives of combating climate change and achieving sustained economic growth for poverty alleviation and other Millennium Development Goals are gauge challenges for Sri Lanka. Addressing these challenges requires urgent action – increased and institutional capacity, and stronger government and private sector policies.

Climate change management will be a complex and highly interactive responsibility involving close coordination among all sector ministries. For both adaptation and mitigation, the development and enhancement of Sri Lanka’s institutional and human resource capacity will be essential in managing investments and identifying intervention areas for research and knowledge management. To this end, Sri Lanka can access technical and financial support from key development partners, such as the Asian Development Bank, states the publication.

A groundbreaking report of the ADB predicts that by 2050, the collective economy of six countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – will lose an average 1.8% of its annual gross domestic product, rising to 8.8% by 2100. The forecast assumes a 4.6°C rise in global temperatures, but given the uncertainties of climate change, there is a slight chance that annual losses will rise to as high as 24% by 2100.

“South Asia’s economy is under serious threat and the lives and livelihoods of millions of South Asians inhabiting the region’s many mountains, deltas, and atolls are on a knife edge,” says Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. “Countries must respond individually and collectively to cope with rising sea levels, disrupted water, food, and energy supply and increased disease,” he said.

The Maldives and Nepal would be the hardest hit, losing up to 12.6% and 9.9% of their economies, respectively, every year, by 2100. Meanwhile, Bangladesh would lose 9.4%, India 8.7%, Bhutan 6.6%, and Sri Lanka 6.5%.
The impact and cost of climate change in South Asia will depend largely on how the global community tackles the issue, according to the report.

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