MANILA, Philippines - Climate change will slash up to nine per cent off the South Asian economy every year by the end of this century if the world continues on its current fossil-fuel intensive path, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
The human and financial toll could be even higher if the damage from floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events is included, it says. A ground-breaking report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) titled Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia, predicts that by 2050, the collective economy of six countries-Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka-will lose an average 1.8 per cent of its annual gross domestic product, rising to 8.8 per cent by 2100.
The forecast assumes a 4.6øC rise in global temperatures, but given the uncertainties of climate change, there is a slight chance that annual losses will rise to as high as 24 per cent by 2100. Maldives and Nepal would be the hardest hit, losing up to 12.6 per cent and 9.9 per cent of their economies, respectively, every year, by 2100. Meanwhile, Bangladesh would lose 9.4 per cent, India 8.7per cent, Bhutan 6.6 per cent, and Sri Lanka 6.5 per cent.
The impact and cost of climate change in South Asia will depend largely on how the global community tackles the issue. According to the report, if the world continues on its current path, South Asia will need to spend at least $73 billion, or an average of 0.86 per cent of its GDP every year between now and 2100 to adapt to the damage caused by climate change.
On the other hand, if countries around the world act together to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2øC under the so-called Copenhagen-Cancun agreement, then South Asia's economy would only be reduced by 1.3 per cent annually by 2050 and 2.5 per cent by 2100 and the cost of shielding itself from the worst of the impacts would be nearly halved to around $40.6 billion, or 0.48per cent of the GDP.