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Climate Related Shocks Could Slow Down Sri Lanka’s Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Efforts, World Bank Report Implies

June 19, 2013

Regional Vice President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero discusses how an expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades threatens South Asia’s dense urban populations with extreme heat, flooding, and disease and could trap millions of people in poverty. Read more at: http://climatechange.worldbank.org

World Bank Group

Sri Lanka among other South Asian countries to be hit hard with extreme weather, coastal erosion, rising seas

Colombo, June 19, 2013— Sri Lanka will be among South Asian countries hard hit by climate change and this could undermine efforts to overcome poverty and increase economic growth, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group. An expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades will impact island economies such as Sri Lanka with extreme weather and rising sea levels. Visionary political will is needed to change the current trajectory of climate change impacts on growth and poverty reduction efforts. New technological solutions and international cooperation are a must to adapt to and mitigate climate change related disasters, says the new report.

It is expected that out of all countries in South Asia, the Southernmost tip of India and Sri Lanka will be most affected by rising temperature. In these areas, 20 to 30 percent of summer months are expected to experience unprecedented heat. With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimeters. The consequences on livelihoods and health could be disastrous warns this scientific report. Disturbances to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures put water and food resources at severe risk.  An extreme wet monsoon, which currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years, is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century.

“In Sri Lanka, we recently witnessed the havoc wrought on communities, especially those living on the coast, by extreme bad weather and this could only get worse with the accelerating effects of climate change,” said Ivan Rossignol, Acting Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “The World Bank Group is integrating climate risk mitigation into the designs of its investment lending operations to ensure sustainability of projects in Sri Lanka” said Rossignol. He gives the examples of recent World Bank projects such as the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP) that aims at flood and drainage management and the Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning Project (DSWRP), which has incorporated climate/weather proofing of water resource management into its project design.

Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience builds on a World Bank report released late last year, which concluded the world would warm by 4 degrees Celsius (4°C or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if countries did not take concerted action now. This new report looks at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics,  says the consequences for South Asia of a warming climate are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4°C  by 2090. In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

What is needed to mitigate some of the damage from even 1.5 to 2ºC warming are major investments in infrastructure, flood defenses, drought and heat resistant crops and improved management of surface and groundwater.

“We are determined to work with countries to find solutions,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. Kim.  “But, the science is clear.  There can be no substitute for aggressive national mitigation targets, and the burden of emissions reductions lies with a few large economies.” 

Colombo Green Growth Program with support from the World Bank is just one among other active and planned Climate Change adaptation and mitigation interventions of the Government of Sri Lanka. World Bank support is towards the development of a Green Growth Strategy for Metropolitan Colombo Region, covering various sectors, such as transport, urban energy efficiency, waste, water and wetlands. The aim of this initiative is to involve various stakeholders to build a partnership around green sustainable development. This would improve coordination among various stakeholders for proposing, designing and implementing green infrastructure projects by creating an incentive mechanism. The Strategy will outline the key intervention areas and identify main areas of sustainable benefits, such as Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction, energy saving, and other local environmental and social benefits. This Technical Assistance activity will also support the Government identify potential ways of attracting green/climate financing.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is working to address the issues of climate change across the region, with a focus on adaptation and mitigation using renewable energy, cleaner production, and energy efficiency financing.

For a copy of Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience go to: https://climatechange.worldbank.org

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