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BW Explains: Global Climate Change & Its Impact On South Asian Countries
While climate change affects every living being and region worldwide, economically disadvantaged or developing countries bear a larger burden and are disproportionately affected by it
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Climate change is a global phenomenon that refers to long-term variations in temperature and weather. The largest known contributors to the changing climate are humans and their activities. While climate change affects every other living being and region worldwide, economically disadvantaged or developing countries bear a much larger burden and are adversely affected by it. Their dependence on natural resources and their limited capacity to cope with extreme climate variability are the estimated reasons for the same. South Asia is alarmingly ahead among the regions set to be most severely impacted.
The South Asian region consists of eight countries, namely India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Afghanistan. Let us quickly understand the severity of the globally projected weather change in these commonly identified developing countries.
With a shortage of capital and other advanced development, India occupies an intriguing position in the context of climate change that is eventually hampering its economic development. The country is blessed with natural resources and a diversified nature from Kashmir to Kanyakumari but is adversely affected by many irreversible climate changes in recent years. According to reports, India is responsible for the emission of 3 gigatonnes of CO2 greenhouse gases each year, a total of 7 per cent of the global emission, despite having just 17 per cent of the worldwide population. Even after 75 years of independence, the agricultural sector majorly contributes to the Indian economy, and 50 per cent of the country’s progress is still directly or indirectly dependent on farming and agro-based industries. If the harvest is good enough, the economy is great, but since agriculture is itself dependent on the monsoon and temperature, undoubtedly India is adversely affected by the climate change that frequently causes floods, heatwaves, drought, and other natural calamities, thus hindering the Indian economy.
Pakistan’s struggling economic condition, high external debt, and sinking foreign exchange reserves are breaking headlines every other day. Experts claim that climate change is a major issue for the country’s dwindling economy, and South Asia’s changing climate pattern adds to the Islamic nation’s high inflation and low GDP.
Climate variability is impacting Nepal’s economy by all possible means, with lower agricultural productivity, infrastructural damage, and higher imports among others. According to some researched data, about 80 per cent of the country’s losses are particularly due to climatic hazards like floods, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
As a developing nation, Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to adverse climate change, and according to its National Adaptation Plan, 2016-2025, agriculture, fisheries, water, human health, coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity, infrastructure, and human settlements suffer major damage. Currently, the country is facing unsustainable debt and a severe payments crisis, and the negative economy will continue with the climatic crisis globally, thus depriving the living standards.
Bhutan’s economy is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and hydropower, and according to the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology, Royal Government of Bhutan, the country’s climate change includes the formation of supra-glacial, extreme weather, changing rainfall, drying of streams, and flash floods, thus having an adverse effect on its economic growth.
Among the other Asian countries, Bangladesh is heavily affected by climate change, and according to reports, the country has experienced more than 185 adverse weather calamities over the past 20 years. Currently, about 75 per cent of the country is technically submerged; therefore, any rise in sea level will severely affect its habitat. Studies even claim that climate change is the reason for the country’s weak economy and will drastically hamper its future economy.
Studies reveal the Maldives is the most at-risk country in South Asia due to the climatic crisis globally, causing annual economic losses of over 12 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of this century. Climate change in the Maldives is a major issue for the country suggesting most of the nation will become uninhabitable in the coming years.
Afghanistan, as a developing nation, contributes very little to greenhouse gas emissions, still the global climatic crisis is deteriorating its economy causing a high poverty rate restricting its ability to successfully prevent and fight the grave climate changes, making it extremely vulnerable to increasing temperatures, monsoon changes, snowfall, severe droughts, floods and forest fires.