The region is already experiencing a warming climate that can be seen in warmer periods in India, increasing variability of the monsoon rainfall, intense rainfalls and an increase in the number of droughts. Droughts will especially affect northwestern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Nepal, glaciers will melt faster and threaten people’s access to water and energy supplies from hydropower.
Additionally, climate changes are not uniformly spread around the world; for example, the sea level rise is expected to be 10-15% higher in countries closer to the equator. This is especially problematic for low lying, coastal countries such as Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
For South Asia, the most significant climate risks with a warming of 2ºC include:
· Periods of droughts and intense rains will increase
· Frequency of unusually hot and extreme temperatures will increase, increasing death rates and reducing crop yields.
· Water availability will be unreliable and limit energy production, both for hydropower and cooling of thermal power generation.
· Rising sea-levels, estimated to be 60 to 80cm in a 2ºC world, will increase flooding of deltas and coastal cities, which will destroy crops, increase disease and drowning, and destroy infrastructure
While the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the harm caused by progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor. Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers.
In cities, residents will suffer with temperatures magnified by the so-called “heat island effect” of urban environments. Safe drinking water will become increasingly constrained and alternatives, especially during and after flooding, are likely to contribute to greater water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.
To reduce the worst effects, major investments in infrastructure, flood defenses, drought and heat resistant crops are needed. The Bank is assessing how to respond to the threats and has started working on climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which is exploring pilot programs on millions of hectares utilizing technologies, practices and interventions that can directly reduce poverty and ensure food security by improving landscape and water management and raising yields.
“We have a moral imperative to protect the most vulnerable people, standing in the path of climate-driven hardship,” World Bank Vice President Isabel Guerrero said, “The report is a warning, and we have a duty to respond."
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