RISING SEA LEVELS SERIOUS THREAT TO ASIAN CITIES, MAY PUT 15 MN PEOPLE AT RISK BY 2030

A new Greenpeace report reveals that the rising sea levels are a serious threat to the economy of Asian coastal cities. The report, titled “The Projected Economic Impact of Extreme Sea-Level Rise in Seven Asian Cities in 2030“, looks at the seven major Asian cities – Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, Taipei and Manila.

While extreme weather events include heat waves, excessive rainfall and tropical cyclones, this report chooses to focus on tropical cyclones, storm surges, high tides and sea-level rise in Asia.

According to estimations made by the report, 15 million people across the seven Asian cities will live in areas at risk of flooding by 2030.

This report comes a week after a draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was leaked online. The draft stated, “Difficult choices will need to be made as sea level continues to rise, floods and storm surges become more frequent and intense, warming increases ocean acidity and intensifies heatwaves.” Rising sea levels and stronger tropical cyclones are putting coastal communities across Asia in danger of flooding. By 2100, the IPCC 2019 predicts a rise of 0.43-0.84m in global mean sea level.

“Within this decade, coastal cities in Asia are at high risk from rising sea levels and intensifying storms, impacting our homes, safety and livelihoods. Not only is it long past time to halt the construction of all fossil fuel projects, but governments must implement increased flood control and early warnings,” Mikyoung Kim, climate urgency project manager at Greenpeace East Asia.

“Existing climate commitments, including nationally determined contribution targets, are insufficient to avert the risk of severe coastal flooding,” she added.

Because land, population, and GDP are among the essential resources for economic development, a precise estimate of the possible effects of sea-level rise is critical for making decisions about how to protect them.

An estimated 600 million people in total – the majority of who live in Asia – will be affected by rising sea levels in areas that are low lying coastal regions, areas with a high risk of flooding or all of the above.  Some of these areas are economic centres with the significant gross domestic product (GDP).

The main findings from the report:

  • If a 10-year flood occurs in 2030, more than 96 per cent of Bangkok’s land area might be flooded, including high-density residential and commercial sectors in the city centre.
  • Jakarta is threatened by both rising sea levels and sinking. If a 10-year flood occurs in 2030, over 17 per cent of Jakarta’s total land area is below the level at which seawater could reach, posing a US$68 billion GDP risk.
  • Eastern Tokyo’s low-lying neighbourhoods, including Sumida, Koto, Adachi, Katsushika, and Edogawa Wards (Sumida, Koto, Adachi, Katsushika, and Edogawa), are particularly vulnerable to increasing sea levels. Coastal flooding in Tokyo threatens $68 billion in GDP in 2030 or seven per cent of the city’s overall GDP.
  • The ancient Datong District in Taipei and Taipei Main Station, the most important transport hub in northern Taiwan, are at risk of flooding. It is anticipated that 24 per cent of Taipei’s overall GDP could be impacted.
  • If a 10-year flood occurs in 2030, over 87 per cent of Manila’s land area is below the level to which seawater could rise. A total of 1.54 million individuals and US$39 billion could be impacted.

Conclusion

The report states that to ensure that these cities do not fall to constant flooding and rising sea levels, it is important for the government and private cooperations alike to stop the funding of fossil fuels in the country and overseas. This will protect the city’s economy and its residents while also working towards decreasing climate change.

Greenpeace, in their report, asks the powers that be to develop a more ambitious “nationally determined contribution5 targets consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit ahead of COP26.

It is also important that the domestic energy transition is done by investing in clean and renewable energy. Before that, the new coal power plants projects need to be cancelled, and those that exist should be phased out, along with nuclear power stations.

They also ask that deforestation and conversion of peatlands should be stopped.

Another important aspect that needs to be worked on is enabling cities and communities to become more climate-resilient. They can do this by updating their infrastructure to include early warning systems, decentralizing climate information that will allow everyone to plan for harmful climate impacts and strengthening community-based disaster risk reduction and response to climate impacts.

Read about the city-specific finding from the report here.

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