- Ishita Dutta
THE FUTURE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTH ASIA
The future of climate change post-COVID-19 in Asia, international governance has endangered millions of South Asians. Climate change is political, the growing powerful regimes are denying the climate crisis and the new normal in Asia will create a world of dying populations. An issue that started unfolding in decades is still a problem in the 21st century. Since the pandemic has hit the world, 2020 is the best year to reflect upon climate emergency. The world has experienced a new normal but are we ready to see the world in a climate emergency? The world has already warmed 1.1oC since the industrial revolution and the need of the hour is to cut down our emissions in half by 2030. With world economies crashing, the transformation to a green world has further pushed away. The intergovernmental panel on climate change in 2018 warned that warming up of the world 2oC more than the preindustrial world would leave millions of people across the world in poverty.
Climate change impacts countries disproportionately, the countries that contribute the least are sometimes the most impacted ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world more difficult to adapt to a world less dependent on fossil fuels. The amount of
fossil fuel cut down during COVID-19 needs to be repeated for a decade more to cut down emissions, which is impossible to do in a post-pandemic world. While some countries in Asia are pushing hard to restart the economy, in India the new EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) draft 2020 supports industrialists and fails to provide environmental protection. China is the world’s largest emitter in Asia and has not committed to switching green. China is investing in new infrastructures in 2020 that are as much as $1.4 trillion spending which do not provide environmental protection or do not lower emissions in China. The belt and road initiative by China provide intensive investments that are funding emissions. There are instances of hope in Asia, in South Korea, the government has promised a $10 billion investment on renewable energy, and China, India, and Japan have expanded the renewable energy generation massively.
Climate crisis in South Asia
The cyclone and flood in India and Bangladesh suggest the horrors of climate change in South Asia. In the region, 85% of energy comes from fossil fuels. Global warming and rising sea levels suggest the destructive actions of humankind. The changes in the Himalayan range, melting ice caps has resulted in floods and landslides during monsoon suggests the climate change impact in Asia. While most of the countries in Asia are developing countries, the pollution contribution is very high, India, China and Japan are ranked third, first, and fifth-worst polluting countries in the world. The chief of the UN warned Asia to quit the “addiction” to coal to fight climate change in 2020. The new study found out that Asia was among the most affected by the climate-driven flood.
South Asia is one of the most densely populated places in the world and the impact of climate change has caused extremely wet/dry conditions during Asian monsoon. India has been immensely affected by these climate changes as it affects both agriculture and infrastructure. India has observed a decreasing country scale trend in rainfall in the last decade. While Pakistan and Bangladesh have an increased number and intensity of heavy rainfall in the region, India has 1.35 billion population and over the last century, India has experienced 0.5oC accelerated warming. The rising sea levels due to global warming would threaten 237 million people living on the coastline in Asia by 2050 by annual flooding. The six Asian countries most threatened by floods would be Thailand, China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
Intense floods, droughts, and cyclones have impacted the economic growth of South Asia with millions of migrated poor populations across Asia. The risk of climate change can be seen in the environment, agriculture infrastructure, and human resources. With increasing dust storms, floods, and lack of drinking water, south Asia is adversely impacted by the climate crisis. In 2018, the dust storm in North India killed 125, destroyed infrastructures and natural resources while impacted thousands, this was the result of high temperature in South Asia. Climate change has impacted the lifestyle and living conditions across the world, but the migration of climate-sensitive hotspots will be increasing in the coming years.
According to IPCC The fifth assessment report, the global mean temperature increase is 0.85C from 1880 to 2012 and the projection is a large increase in the future. The global warming has many effects regionally but one change in moisture conditions effects the distribution of arid/humid patterns and the changing pattern can shift the arid/humid zones across the world. The study of Arid Index (AI) and future warming stats suggest that the humid regions in Asia will contract significantly while the semi-arid and arid regions will expand in the Continent.
The rising climate change is questioning international governance, the failure of the world leader to tackle climate change is highlighting the absence of international governance.
The future of millions of South Asians is in the hands of few leaders and the ignorance and incompetent action of nations are risking the lives of millions. The fight against climate change is in policymaking, the future of the world is in the choices that the few make. The future is in the process every day. The “natural disasters'' are no more natural, human actions have consequences which are evident in climate change. The vulnerable third world countries are most impacted by climate change that makes the impact of climate change disproportionate. Global governance is postponing the crisis, the policies are not resolving the climate crisis. While Asia is holding the burden of development and growing economy, the future of South Asia is in the future of climate change.