Global warming puts Vietnam livelihoods under threat, World Bank warns

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Livelihoods in Vietnam, which is part of "vulnerable" Southeast Asia, are facing threats from sea-level rise, ocean warming, and more severe storms and floods caused by an increasing possibility of the temperature rising by four degrees Celsius, the World Bank warns in a report.

The report titled "Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience" and released last week said Southeast Asia, parts of which were archipelagoes and whose large populations live in low-lying deltaic and coastal regions, was "particularly vulnerable" to the impacts of rising sea levels.

A rise of 30 centimeters, which could occur as early as 2040, could cause a loss of around 12 percent in agricultural production in the Mekong Delta region due to flooding and seawater intrusion.

The region contributes around half of Vietnam's total agricultural output, especially rice.

Climate change's consequences like tropical storms, salinity intrusion, and coastal floods, would also threaten aquaculture, a rapidly growing industry that is important to the economy and food security in Southeast Asia, it said.

Rising temperatures could exceed the tolerance limits of farmed aquatic species.

In Vietnam, the aquaculture sector contributes around 5 percent of GDP.

Fisheries, especially coral reef fisheries, were likely to be impacted by the rise, warming, and acidification of oceans, causing considerable reductions in maximum catch potential in the region, including 16 percent in Vietnamese waters.

The sea-level rise and tropical storms could increase the intrusion of seawater, thereby contaminating freshwater sources and causing increased health problems such as miscarriages, skin and respiratory diseases, and diarrhea.

Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Manila, and Bangkok, are expected to see sea levels rise by 50 centimeters by about 2060 and 100 centimeters by 2090.

The report, by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, looks at the risks that the three "most vulnerable" regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa are likely to encounter if the temperature increases by two degrees in 20-30 years or even four degrees by the end of this century.

"It is not too late to hold warming near two degrees Celsius, and build resilience to temperatures and other climate impacts that are expected to still pose significant risks to agriculture, water resources, coastal infrastructure, and human health," it said.

"The window for holding warming below two degrees Celsius and avoiding a four degrees Celsius rise is closing rapidly, and the time to act is now."

Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank's vice president for East Asia and Pacific, said: "Many Southeast Asian countries are already taking concerted actions to address the impacts of climate change, but this report tells us that we need to do much more [to reduce the ever-increasing vulnerability of populations to climate risk]."

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