According to the UK risk consultancy firm Maplecroft, metropolises in South and Southeast Asia are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Maplecroft’s fifth annual “Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas” ranks Dhaka as the most at risk of 50 cities of future business importance.
The 2013 atlas (CCVI) classifies 7 cities as being at “extreme risk”.
Here are the top 8:
- Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Manila, Philippines
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Yangon (Rangoon), Burma
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Kolkata, India
- Mumbai, India (“high risk”)
The CCVI looks at exposure to extreme weather events such as drought, cyclones, wildfires and storm surges, which translate into water stress, loss of crops and land lost to the sea.
With economic growths of at least 5% forecast for the countries in which the above cities are located, Maplecroft warns that climate change cannot be ignored by vulnerable population and business centers.
Five Chinese cities were also included in the “high risk” category: Hong Kong (14), Guangzhou (18), Shenzhen (19), Wuhan (23) and Shanghai (24). Those cities are home to a total of over 41 million people.
Maplecroft says the next 10 years could see China face increasing environmental pressures. For example water stress in the country could be exacerbated as the needs of industry and agriculture compete with those of expanding populations.
Unfortunately, the biggest greenhouse gas emitting nations (China and the US) do not seem willing to take significant actions to keep emissions low enough to avoid high and extreme risk situations. If hurricane Sandy, which caused some $50bn US in damage, isn’t an effective enough wake-up call, I don’t know what is. Though New York is ranked 41st overall in terms of risk by Maplecroft, it is number 17 in the list of port cities most vulnerable to face sea level rise and cyclones according to another study of 20 cities by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The top eight in that list were also all Asian cities.
The difference between the developing and rich world is not just the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, but the infrastructure to deal with such events. Krishna Achutarao, professor at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India is quoted in Smart Planet: “Everybody is going to take the impact of climate change. The divide is not on the impact but the ability to cope.”