East Asia’s Inaction Against Climate Change Could Cost $854 billion

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Written By: Emma Websdale

Approximately 12 million people in 23 East Asian cities face threats of increased intense droughts, severe storms and rising sea levels brought on by climate change, potentially jeopardizing $864 billion in assets, a new report warns.
3848405427According to a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the $864 billion cost of inaction against the threats of climate change to East Asia’s vulnerable sectors including agriculture, infrastructure and coastal protection, would far outweigh the cost of less than 0.3% of East Asia’s gross domestic product every year between 2010 and 2050 required for adaptation efforts.

“This report shows that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of climate change adaptation if countries act now”, said Ayumi Konishi, Director General of ADB’s East Asia Department.

“Climate change not only brings challenges to East Asia, but also opportunities for stronger regional cooperation.”

The report entitled, ‘Economics of Climate Change in East Asia’ which projected the severity of weather conditions heightened by climate change, found that without adaptation efforts, the total economic damage from land loss and flooding is projected to total $55 billion a year during 2010-2050. The report warns that these threats, combined with rising sea levels would eventually cause large areas of land to disappear, inflicting great damage to infrastructure and agriculture, as well as leaving millions displaced.

Since 1970, economic losses totaling more than $340 billion in Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China have already been caused by climate-induced natural disasters.

The report, which examined how these four countries could respond to such climate threats through  adaptation and mitigation efforts, recommends that together, these nations should invest an annual average of $22.9 billion into the infrastructure sector, and $9.5 billion into the agriculture sector.

The report stresses that, in tackling global climate change, a critically important role is played by East Asia –a region that contains 25% of the global population and was responsible for 30% of the world’s carbon emissions in 2010.

“East Asia needs to shift toward a model of economic growth focused on low carbon emissions and more efficient use of resources”, said the report. Adding an optimistic note, the report further states that “measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases should lead to significant improvements in local air quality, thus reducing the damage to the health of urban populations.”