A new study by the Asian Development Bank predicts that without acceptance of international agreements on fossil fuels, climate change will decrease economic activity in South Asia to the tune of 9 percent annually by 2100.
According to the report, 2050 is the year in which climate change starts to take a serious and noticeable toll on the South Asian economies of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri-Lanka. At the mid-century point, these countries will start to lose around 1.8 percent of their annual gross domestic product every year, caused by rising temperatures of up to 4.6 °C, an increase projected to arrive by 2100.
Maldives and Nepal could face the brunt of the impact, both losing 12.6 percent every year. Due to the uncertainties of assessing climate change, the report notes that there is a slight chance of losses coming in at 24 percent at the end of the century.
“South Asia’s economy is under serious threat and the lives and livelihoods of millions of South Asians inhabiting the region’s many mountains, deltas, and atolls are on a knife edge,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. “Countries must respond individually and collectively to cope with rising sea levels, disrupted water, food, and energy supply and increased disease.”
However, there is no lack of critical scrutiny directed at the report’s findings and predictions.
“Aside from the impossibility of projecting anything a hundred years into the future, there are countervailing reports and studies that suggest the exact opposite. It isn’t a two degree temperature increase over a hundred years that threatens the well-being of South Asia. It’s environmentalist policies,” William Yeatman, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We have to worry about global warming policies and their inimical effects on economic growth and development. Growth is the ultimate mechanism by which poverty is alleviated,” he said.
Food security, too, is discussed by the report, as rising temperatures have an immediate impact on agriculture. While the study mentions there will be some agricultural gains from rising temperatures, the overall effect is net negative. Crops will fail in the short-run and production will drop off in the long-run.
In comparison, assuming global cooperation with the Copenhagen-Cancun agreement, economic losses by 2050 will be 1.3 percent annually and only 2.5 percent annually by 2100. The costs of mitigating economic losses would also drop by half to $40.6 billion. The goal of the agreement is to keep rising temperatures below 2°C.
“There is no precedent for international burden sharing, and there is no chance of binding countries to these agreements which establish international regulatory regimes to rein in climate change. These agreements are puffery and a giant waste of time,” Yeatman added.
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