How climate change will affect the “Four Asias”

Yuito Yamada, partner based in our Tokyo office and co-author of Future of Asia, discusses how the impacts of climate change will vary across the “Four Asias” within the region.

What are the key impacts of climate change across Asia, and how can they be managed?

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Asia is at the forefront of climate change. Absent adaptation, mitigation, the climate hazards that the region faces in the future, heat waves, flooding, are going to be severe or more intense as we also saw from the IPCC report. COVID-19 is further highlighting the importance of risk and resilience.

While the world is focused on recovery, we cannot lose sight of climate risk. In Asia, this will differ. We paved it down into the four Asias. Frontier Asia, Emerging Asia, Advanced Asia, and China.

Frontier Asia is Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. These places would have extreme increases in heat and humidity, which make significant impact, workability, and livability. By 2050, Frontier Asia could face a much higher probability of lethal heat waves. Between 500 and 700 million people in the region that could be affected in areas that have an annual probability of a lethal heat wave, about 20%.

Emerging Asia, which is Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, and Malaysia, would see increases in heat and humidity by 2050 and growing exposure to extreme precipitation events, as well. Advanced Asia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, are projected become warmer.

And places like Australia, South Korea, and parts of China will see potential declines in water supply. In China, on average, it's going to be projected to be hotter. In addition, the eastern part could see increases in drought frequency, decreases in water supply, and threats in extreme heat, including lethal heat waves.

Central, northern, and western China are very different, experiencing increases in water supply and more frequent extreme precipitation events. The risks for Asia from changing climate risk are very considerable, but so are the opportunities. Asian leaders should consider how the region could take steps to be a global leader and protect the lives and livelihood from physical climate risk.

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