A boy searches for food scraps in polyethylene packages at the roadside in Allahabad, India, on May 11, 2018. In 2021, more than 57 million people will be affected by climate disasters in Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Sanjay Kanojia | Afp | fake images
Asia, one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, is also home to the largest contributors to global warming.
In 2021, more than 57 million people were affected by climate disasters in the region, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported.
And the risk facing Asia is only going to grow.
In the worst case scenario, by 2050, a vast majority of people living in areas likely to have deadly deadly waves will be in Asia, according to a McKinsey Global Institute Report 2020.
“It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” said IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep reductions in emissions in all sectors, it will be impossible.”
And yet, efforts to mitigate that risk have been inadequate on several fronts, especially when it comes to China and India, two of the top three contributors to global emissions besides the US.
Asia plays a crucial role in global efforts to decarbonize because it represents nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the region presents an uneven picture, with culpability and vulnerability varying significantly from country to country.
In 2019, China’s greenhouse gas emissions exceeded those of the entire developed world for the first time, according to a 2021 report from research and consulting firm Rhodium Group.
Dimitri de Boer, chief representative of ClientEarth China, an environmental charity, acknowledged that China has stepped up efforts to combat climate change, pledging to stop building coal-fired power plants abroad and supporting other countries in developing systems. of renewable energy.
However, he noted that the Chinese economy remains heavily dependent on coal, which may impede its progress.
Similarly, Gabriel Lau, professor emeritus at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, also recognized the progress that China has made. But he said more attention needs to be paid to renewable energy resources, broader conservation measures and public education.
India, for its part, is expected to see the largest increase in energy demand globally in the next 20 years. And none of the country’s cities met the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines, according to a report by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology firm.
While India’s net zero emissions target by 2070 is moving in the right direction, the country still needs “rigor, good practice and fairness” to achieve its goals, Avinash Kumar, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace India, told CNBC. nonprofit organization. an email.
In addition to government incentives, the country’s energy transition must also be driven by large industries, he added.
“Setting a deadline 50 years from now is not a dodge, we no longer have that option,” he said. “It can’t be business as usual with new fossil fuel projects, open pit mining and dilution of environmental laws.”
However, many of the most vulnerable countries in Asia are located elsewhere.
“There is not necessarily one Asia, we have many different parts of Asia… that are very different in their economic structures, their degree of integration, and with that, their exposure to climate change.” said Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute.
Southeast Asia, for example, has sea levels rising faster than anywhere else in the world and bears the brunt from many climate hazards. That’s in part because the region is home to a significant number of low-lying countries with lower levels of GDP per capita, such as Cambodia and Myanmar.
Kumar of Greenpeace India noted that developed countries will have to shoulder more financial responsibility.
“The $100 billion commitment promised by rich countries to developing countries in 2009 has not yet been fulfilled,” Kumar said. “As it stands, developing countries are severely underfunded for climate mitigation.”
Despite Asia’s efforts so far, climate model simulations indicate it will remain difficult to limit global warming below 1.5°C even if targets are met, Lau said.
Still, the integration of climate policies into national development plans is of great importance. “immediate importance” to mitigate the harmful effects of rising temperatures, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said.
Kumar warned that the next 10 years will be crucial and tougher plans must be made to cut emissions in half by 2030 at COP27, the next UN climate summit.
“People are losing their lives to floods, heat waves, droughts, downpours and more,” he added. “They can’t wait another 50 years to see real climate action on the ground.”