UN reports 2020 was the hottest year in Asia (INFOGRAPHIC)
According to a study by the World Meteorological Organisation, the consequences of climate change on the continent are catastrophic: rising temperatures, flooding, disease, food insecurity, population movements, and huge economic losses.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Last year, 2020, was a particularly hot year in Asia with the average temperature 1.39 °C higher than in the period 1981-2010, this according to the State of the Climate in Asia 2020 report released today by the World Meteorological Organisation, a United Nations agency.
The year of the pandemic was thus the hottest based on available data, part of an upward trend that is set to continue. Heat waves were the most intense during the summer; in Verkhoyansk, the mercury rose to 38 °C in June, the highest ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle.
The consequences of climate change in Asia are catastrophic – floods and storms alone affected 50 million people and killed at least 5,000 in 2020. But this is a below the annual average of the past two decades, or 158 million people affected with about 15,500 dead.
In Afghanistan, 14 provinces were flooded in August 2020, with at least 1,550 homes destroyed and another 2,400 heavily damaged.
The melting of ice, which is essential to ensure the availability of water resources in times of drought, is now a source of major concern for those involved in humanitarian action and building climate resilience.
Should the latest estimates prove to be true, Asia’s glaciers (including the Himalayas) could lose up to 40 per cent of their mass by 2050, affecting at least 750 million people.
As a result of climate change, the continent is also moving away from achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals – food security in 2020 has decreased with malnutrition afflicting 48.8 million people in Southeast Asia, 305.7 million in South Asia and 42.3 million in West Asia.
Overall, half of the world's undernourished population is in Asia, with a 20 per cent increase in South Asia.
Rising temperatures also favour the proliferation of diseases. The report points out that in some regions there has been a higher incidence of diarrhoeal diseases and dengue outbreaks.
The economic losses, which slowed down the development of Asian countries, are in the order of hundreds of billions of dollars: approximately US$ 238 billion for China, US$ 87 billion for India, and US$ 83 billion for Japan
If the size of the economy is taken into account, climate change has caused an Average Annual Loss (AAL) of 7.9 per cent of GDP in Tajikistan, 5.9 per cent in Cambodia and 5.8 per cent in Laos.
Floods alone cost India and China US$ 26.3 billion and US$ 23.1 billion respectively.
Climate refugees in Asia are another reality. In China, India and Bangladesh, between 4 and 5 million people have had to move for climatic reasons.
In a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, home to mostly Rohingya who fled Myanmar in 2017, monsoon rains caused landslides that forced people to move again.
Cyclone Amphan, which in May 2020 devastated the coasts of the Indian subcontinent, is the perfect example of how extreme events affect all aspects of human life.
Some 2.4 million people were displaced in India and another 2.5 million in Bangladesh.
Many refugees did not have access to evacuation centres because humanitarian action was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the governments of these countries to impose BRAOD lockdowns that have, among other things, disrupted food supply chains.
In Bangladesh, Amphan wiped out 176,000 hectares of farmland and killed 14,000 livestock, disrupting local markets and further hampering the supply of resources.