New World Bank climate change report should spur SEA and world leaders into action: Greenpeace

Jakarta/Bangkok/Manila, 20 June 2013—Greenpeace today called on Southeast Asia and world governments to get serious about addressing climate change, following the release of the World Bank report Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience (1).

The report is the latest–and so far the grimmest–scientific study on climate change impacts in Southeast Asia. It details projected negative impacts of 2 degrees and 4 degrees warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities in the region.

“Southeast Asia is already reeling from the impacts of climate change such as extreme weather. But this report gives an even bleaker picture of the future of the region, where weather extremes, sea-level rise and ocean warming and acidification will cause more devastation and human suffering,” said Amalie Obusan, Regional Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“The use of fossil fuels such as coal is the main culprit. Fossil fuels are being extracted and burned in the name of development and prosperity, but what they are delivering is the opposite, as the World Bank’s report so clearly underlines,” she added.

Southeast Asia has been cited as one of most vulnerable regions to climate change due to high population concentrations along its coastlines and its low capacity to adapt and respond. Impacts are already being felt: massive flooding, landslides and droughts across the region causing hundreds of thousands worth of damages to property and human life.

On top of these already serious impacts, the World Bank report projects that extreme weather events are going to be more severe in the coming decades. For example, the projected sea level rise in Southeast Asia by the end of the 21st century is 10-15 percent higher than the global average. Manila, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok are expected to experience regional sea level rise exceeding 50 cm above current levels by 2060.

The report predicts reduced crop yields due to sea-level rise in the Mekong Delta, as well as warming throughout the region. Major losses in fish production will also heavily affect food security. By 2050, increased water temperatures will severely affect fish in the Java Sea in Indonesia as well as the Gulf of Thailand. In southern Philippines, maximum fish catch potential is predicted to decrease by 50 percent. Meanwhile, all coral reefs in the region are predicted to experience severe thermal stress by the year 2050.

Ironically, the countries in Southeast Asia which will suffer the most from climate change are the same ones pursuing the road to aggressive coal development. Coal power plant development in the region is at an alarming high. There are currently at least 80 proposed coal-fired power plants totalling more than 58 Gigawatts (58,007 MW). These projects will accelerate climate change instead of mitigating it, fast-tracking and worsening global warming’s negative impacts in the region.

“Given the devastating impacts on the region, the onus is on Southeast Asian leaders to call for global climate change solutions, as well as to enact renewable energy solutions at home. Southeast Asian leaders must ensure that the ASEAN economic community building is low carbon and sustainable by considering on one hand policy support for renewable energy and on the other hand policy reform to de-subsidize coal and oil,” Obusan said.

“Bold action is also needed from all governments, and the World Bank must lead the way by shifting all its energy financing from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency. Alongside this, SEA governments must pursue development that protects and does not destroy biodiversity. These are the only solutions that can truly end poverty and avert catastrophic climate change.”

(1)     http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/14/000445729_20130614145941/Rendered/PDF/784240WP0Full00D0CONF0to0June19090L.pdf