Climate change may reduce South Asia GDP 4-5 percent: World Bank

Global warming now a reason for decreasing GDP in South Asia

But if developed countries act now, a 'climate-smart' world is feasible, and the costs for getting there will be high but still manageable, says the report, adding that high-income countries also need to act quickly to reduce their carbon footprints and boost development of alternative energy sources to help tackle the problem of climate change.

The World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, released worldwide Tuesday, says that advanced countries, which produced most of the greenhouse gas emissions of the past, must act to shape our climate future.

Developing countries can shift to lower-carbon paths while promoting development and reducing poverty, but this depends on financial and technical assistance from high-income countries. A key way to do this is by ramping up funding for mitigation in developing countries, where most future growth in emissions will occur.

"The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change," said World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. "Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change -- a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared. For that reason, an equitable deal in Copenhagen is vitally important."

Copenhagen is hosting the next summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this December.

The report says that that global warming of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures -- the minimum the world is likely to experience -- could result in permanent reductions in GDP of four to five percent for South Asia.
The region's water resources are likely to be affected by climate change, through its effect on the monsoon, which provides 70 percent of annual precipitation in a four-month period, and on the melting of Himalayan glaciers, particularly in the western end of the range.

Agricultural productivity is one of many factors driving the greater vulnerability of developing countries. Extrapolating from past year-to-year variations in climate and agricultural outcomes, yields of major crops in India are projected to decline by 4.5 to 9 percent within the next three decades, even allowing for short-term adaptations.

Rising sea levels are also of important concern in South Asia, which has long and densely populated coastlines, agricultural plains threatened by saltwater intrusion, and many low-lying islands. In more severe climate-change scenarios, rising seas would submerge much of the Maldives and inundate 18 percent of Bangladesh's land.

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