By the end of the century nations in Southeast Asia will face debilitating economic loss due to global warming, according to a new study from the Asian Development Bank. Analyzing Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam the study found that they could suffer an annual loss of 6.7 percent ($230 billion dollars) in combined gross domestic product by 2100, more than double the global average which is estimated at a loss of 2.6 percent.
Rice yields, the agricultural staple of Southeast Asia, will be hit particularly hard with the region suffering a 50 percent decline in rice yields by 2100. The Philippines would see the worst decline with a 75 percent loss in its rice fields.
Slash-and-burn agriculture in Indonesia. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
The study states that Southeast Asia is particularly susceptible to extreme weather, higher temperatures, and rising sea levels due to it extensive coastlines, economies dependent on agriculture, and rampant large-scale deforestation. Annual mean temperatures are expected to rise an average of 4.8 degrees Celsius in the region by century’s end, if greenhouse gas emissions are not regulated.
Assistant chief economist at ADB, Juzhong Zhuang told Reuters that these nations “need regional-level activity and it is needed now. If the action is delayed then south-east Asia will suffer much more than most other regions of the world. What’s needed is better government policy, better co-ordination between agencies and between central and local government, and better research by all countries.”
Most of Southeast Asia’s carbon emissions are due to deforestation instead of the burning of fossil fuels. Eighty percent of Indonesia’s emissions, for example, are due to deforestation and conversion of peat lands, largely for palm oil plantations. Worldwide deforestation accounts for nearly 20 percent of emissions.
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