Vietnam metro among world's biggest losers to climate change flooding

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Vehicles struggle through a flooded road after downpours in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010. Photo by Dinh Phu

Ho Chi Minh City, known as Vietnam's commercial hub, is among the ten most vulnerable cities to climate change flooding, a new study says.

Based on average annual losses caused by flooding until 2050, the study ranks the city ninth among 136 largest coastal cities in the world.

Nature Climate Change, a journal published by Macmillian, a private publishing house in London, said Sunday that Guangzhou topped the list, followed by Mumbai and Kolkata of India.

The Chinese city topped a similar list in 2005, which did not mention HCMC.

Other first-timers in the new list are Kolkata, Guayaquil of Ecuador, Tianjin of China, replacing Japan's Nagoya and Kobe, St. Petersburg of Russia and Boston in the US.

A report published by Vietnam's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment last April forecast that 20 percent of the city's area can be flooded if the sea level rises by one meter.

The UK study said that flood risk is going to shift to cities that are big, fast-growing, poor, exposed to tropical storms and prone to land subsidence.

It estimated that the world's 136 largest coastal cities can lose between US$60 billion and $63 billion a year by 2050 due to land subsidence and sea level rise, even if they continue making investments to maintain their current level of flood exposure.

Their annual losses could jump to more than $1 trillion otherwise, it found.

"[Such a figure is] so huge it only shows that doing nothing is not a realistic option," Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist for the World Bank and lead author of the report, said in a Los Angeles Times report.

The researchers estimated the cities' flood losses at $6 billion in 2005.

They said the cities should raise dikes and implement other flood protection measures at a rate that outpaces rising sea levels, subsidence and socio-economic growth to counter the threat.

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