A UN environment report has revealed that the rising levels of sea will turn out to be a big risk for around 40 million Indians by 2050. According to the report, the rapid urbanisation and economic growth will leave people living in Mumbai and Kolkata most exposed to coastal flooding in the future. Pacific and South and Southeast Asia will witness the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments.
Seven of the 10 most vulnerable countries worldwide are located in the Asia Pacific region, it said focusing on the population at risk from sea level rise by 2050. India is the most vulnerable as 40 million people in the country will be at risk from rising sea levels, followed by more than 25 million in Bangladesh, over 20 million in China and nearly 15 million in the Philippines.
It said that changes in settlement patterns, urbanisation and socio-economic status in Asia have influenced observed trends in vulnerability and exposure to climate extremes. The report said that in many coastal areas, growing urban settlements have also affected the ability of natural coastal systems to respond effectively to extreme climate events, rendering them more vulnerable.
“Some countries, such as China, India and Thailand, are projected to face increased future exposure to extremes, especially in highly urbanised areas, as a result of rapid urbanisation and economic growth,” it said. It listed Mumbai and Kolkata in India, Guangzhou and Shanghai in China, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Yangon in Myanmar, Bangkok in Thailand, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong in Vietnam as projected to have the largest population exposure to coastal flooding in 2070.
“Many of these cities are already exposed to coastal flooding, but have limited capacity to adapt due to their fixed location,” it said. The report has been published ahead of the UN Environment Assembly, that will be held in Nairobi next week. The worst impacts of climate change are projected to occur in the Pacific and South and Southeast Asia, it said. Six of the ten countries most vulnerable to climate change worldwide were in Asia and the Pacific in 2011. Natural disasters, economic crises and climate change can have negative impact on livelihoods, the report said.
On coastal areas highly exposed to cyclones and typhoons the poor tend to be more exposed to natural disasters because they live on hazardous land. Evidence suggests that climate change and climate variability and sea-level rise will exacerbate multi-dimensional poverty in most developing countries. By 2050, areas of storm surge zones are expected for Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with a combined total of over 58 million people at risk.
(With inputs from PTI)