Major Asian cities face climate disaster: WWF

A A A

Low-lying and impoverished Asian coastal cities such as Dhaka, Manila and Jakarta are vulnerable to "brutal" damage from climate change without global action, environmental group WWF warned Thursday.

Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions must be curtailed in "mega-cities" where global warming will affect everything from national security to water availability, the influential campaign group said.

"Climate change is already shattering cities across developing Asia and will be even more brutal in the future," said Kim Carstensen, head of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

"These cities are vulnerable and need urgent help to adapt, in order to protect the lives of millions of citizens, a massive amount of assets, and their large contributions to the national GDP (gross domestic product)."

Including their suburbs, Dhaka, Manila and Jakarta now have a combined population of about 49 million, according to WWF.

It said better-off cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore also faced varying degrees of risk from climate change, such as rising sea levels, excessive rain, flooding and heatwaves.

Hong Kong could see dramatically fewer cold days per year while dengue fever appears to be spreading to previously unaffected parts of Singapore, it noted.

"Asia is the most populous and arguably the most vulnerable continent in the world because of the high risk of climate impacts and relatively low adaptive capacity," the report said.

"Unfortunately, the full extent of climate change has likely not been fully realised," it said, noting that temperatures in Asia have risen by one to three degrees Centigrade (two to five degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 100 years.

WWF issued its report to coincide with a weekend summit here to be attended by US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Asia-Pacific leaders.

The summit takes place three weeks before crucial talks on a new world climate pact open in Copenhagen on December 7.

WWF said that on a "vulnerability" scale going up to 10, Dhaka rated nine points, and Manila and Jakarta eight each.

"Leaders in hotspots of danger like Dhaka, Manila or Jakarta need urgent support from their counterparts in the industrialised world," Carstensen said.

"Effective near-term and long-term adaptation will depend on financial support, technology cooperation, and capacity-building," he said.

Calcutta and Phnom Penh received scores of seven each on the WWF danger scale, Ho Chi Minh City and Shanghai six each, Bangkok five, and Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore four each.

It urged the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to use their summit to promote strategies to reduce carbon emissions across the 21-member organisation.

In a communique to be issued at the end of their annual meeting Sunday, the APEC leaders are expected to declare their support for a global deal at next month's Copenhagen climate gathering.

"We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, recognising that the time-frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries," said a draft of the statement obtained by AFP.

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Thursday that it would seek a "fair and reasonable" result at Copenhagen but reiterated that rich nations must bear most of the burden for redressing global warming.

The WWF report said that while they cause many of their own climate-related problems, Asia's big cities are also part of the solution.

It said "cities are hot spots of innovation and technology and have therefore traditionally been the places where many of the solutions to the world's problems have been developed."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence