Climate change study: asia’s boom regions under water

In Asia, storms and extreme rainfall mainly affect megacities where the economy is growing. This threatens people and businesses.

Flooding in the Philippines. Photo: dpa

Unchecked climate change threatens the good business of international corporations and a large part of the global value added in the future boom regions of the world. Especially in the megacities of Dhaka, Manila, Bangkok, Rangoon, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Calcutta, heavy storms and rainfall can disrupt companies’ production and supply chains.

This is the warning of the latest, fifth "Climate Change Vulnerability Index" (CCVI) from the British risk assessment agency Maplecroft. Two weeks before the start of the next UN climate conference in Warsaw, the index thus focuses attention on the economic consequences of climate policy inaction.

"Multinational companies operating in Asian growth economies will face growing environmental risks over the coming decades," the report finds. It examined 50 major cities for vulnerability, combining population location, level of development, education, governance and mineral resource availability with the risk of climate-related disasters such as storms, floods or extreme rainfall.

In addition to the 7 cities with "extreme risk," he lists another 19 cities with "high risk," such as Delhi, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, or Hong Kong and Shanghai. He sees a low risk only for Paris, London, Chicago, St. Petersburg and Madrid.

The affected regions are no longer the "poor countries" on the periphery of the global economy. The gross domestic product of at-risk cities increases from $275 billion to more than $800 billion by 2025, according to Maplecroft. This means that "cities that are among the regions with the highest growth potential are also among the regions most at risk from climate change."

530,000 deaths in 20 years

In addition, the report says 67 countries are at risk of damage from extreme weather, accounting for one-third of global economic output in 2025. Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Nigeria, Cambodia and the Philippines are at "extreme risk."

"As companies expand into these emerging growth markets, their operations and supply chains will be exposed to complex climate risks that can jeopardize business," says the agency’s expert in charge, Helen Hodge.

Extreme weather is already causing damage, which has been listed for years by the Global Climate Risk Index of the development NGO Germanwatch. It shows that so far, it is mainly the poorest of the poor who suffer from stronger storms and more frequent flood disasters.

According to the report, Honduras, Myanmar and Nicaragua were the countries most affected by 15,000 extreme weather events between 19 – but the report does not establish a direct link to climate change due to a lack of scientific evidence. Eight of the ten hardest-hit countries in those 20 years were states with extremely low per capita incomes, 530,000 people died, and damages totaled $1.7 trillion.

The current report by "Maplecroft" also shows how unevenly the risks are distributed for New York City: although the city took the full brunt of superstorm "Sandy" a year ago, it is only ranked 41st with "medium risk" among the 50 cities studied: the strong U.S. economy and good infrastructure and good preparation prevented extreme damage, the agency wrote: "Some airports and the stock exchange reopened two days after the storm."

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