134m Bangladeshis in vulnerable climate hotspots, 14% per capita GDP fall likely: WB

The loss will amount to $1.71 billion, the World Bank said in the report – South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards – released on Thursday.

The report analysed two scenarios – “climate sensitive”, based on collective action by nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and “carbon intensive”, which assumes no action on climate change.

The 14.4 percent fall in income is projected under the carbon intensive scenario.

The comparative figures for Sri Lanka and India were 10.0 percent and 9.8 percent respectively under the carbon intensive scenario.

Under climate sensitive scenario, the fall in per capita GDP of the Bangladeshis living in the vulnerable climate hotspots will be 6.7 percent by 2050, or total $59 billion in financial terms.

In Bangladesh, the report said, Chattogram Division emerges as the most vulnerable to changes in average weather, followed by Barisal and Dhaka divisions.

The 10 districts topping the list of vulnerable to climate change ones are Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Chattogram,  Rangamati, Noakhali, Feni, Khagrhachharhi, Barguna, Bagerhat and Satkhira.

More than 800 million people now live in areas predicted to become moderate-to-severe “hotspots”, or affected areas, by 2050 under the carbon intensive scenario, with India accounting for almost three quarters of them, the report said.

Moderate hotspots are areas where projected consumption spending declines by 4-8 percent and severe ones are where the drop exceeds 8 percent.

“There seems to be some kind of correlation between climate hotspots and water stressed areas,” Muthukumara Mani, a World Bank economist, said.

“Increasing average temperatures and changes in seasonal rainfall patterns are already having an effect on agriculture across South Asia,” the report said.

“Low-lying Bangladesh and the Maldives are on the global front line of countries at risk for sealevel rise—a result of glacier melt induced by climate change—and increasing vulnerability to flooding and cyclones in the Indian Ocean,” it added.

Dhaka, Karachi, Kolkata, and Mumbai— urban areas that are home to more than 50 million people—face a substantial risk of flood-related damage over the next century, according to the report.

The first-of-its kind report also combined future changes in temperature and rainfall with household survey data linking living standards to weather conditions.

Although low-lying coastal areas in Chattogram have received a lot of attention in Bangladesh due to weather events, hill tracts in the division also emerge as vulnerable to changes in average weather.

Over the years, the hill tracts have become hotspots for outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. In addition, deforestation and hill-cutting have affected the hill slopes considerably, resulting recently in major landslides and destruction of property, the report said.

Cox’s Bazar has gone through a major environmental upheaval in recent years and is now also embroiled in a social crisis due to the influx of Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar, it added.

Nepal and Afghanistan, as well as hilly areas in India, may benefit from the weather changes because of their colder climates.

However, their extensive reliance on streams fed by melting snow would mean that higher temperatures may affect timing and availability of water resources.

“Climate changes will impact you based on where you live and what you do,” said Mani, who is also the main author of the report.

Inland areas would be more affected than coastal areas and mountainous regions, and the most vulnerable would be those dependent on agriculture as their main livelihood, he added.

Targeted policies such as enhancing educational attainment, reducing water stress and improving opportunities in the non-agricultural sector could reduce the impact of climate change on living standards, the report added.

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