Living with Climate Change (illustrations)
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The loss of natural forest and tropical forest dieback will vastly increase global carbon emissions. Typically, clearance of 1 hectare of tropical forest will release about m 3 of carbon into the atmosphere Jones et al, Forests are commonly converted to cropland, paddy and pasture to respond to growing population and urbanization needs or lost through illegal logging.
Indonesia, for example, has lost 60 per cent of its total forest 64 million hectares over a period of 50 years, from to , and the loss is continuing at the rate of 2 million hectares per year. Biodiversity is under threat. Hundreds of mammal and bird species have been declared threatened UNEP, Widespread bleaching of coral reefs has been reported in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia Preston et al, Forest under legal protection is not safe; some 56 per cent of protected lowland forest in Kalimantan, Indonesia, has been wiped out in recent years, from to With few exceptions, most municipalities cannot cope with the challenges of rapid urbanization.
All the countries in Southeast Asia, except Singapore, are developing countries with little capacity to manage urbanization and climate impacts. Many are struggling to cope with the current climate-related hazards to which they are exposed, including cyclone, rainfall extremes, floods and droughts with severe damage and loss of life Table 1.
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Take the Nargis cyclone 2 May In Indonesia, some 75 to 80 percent of all natural disasters during the period of were linked to climatic change The Brunei Times , In addition, scientists are predicting that climate change may trigger more frequent and violent seismic activities Reuters, 17 Sep The effect of a rise in global sea level on the region may be as much as cm by and cm by Several of the Southeast Asian countries are island-states or in low-lying river deltas.
The Mekong river delta of Vietnam and many small islands in Southeast Asia are most at risk. According to the Asia Times , 26 May , Southeast Asia is possibly one of the most vulnerable areas in the global climate-change scenarios. Extreme climate events are expected to occur more frequently.
They are particularly vulnerable to some of the worst manifestations of climate change expected in the coming decades. About 69 — 91 per cent of land area in Mekong Delta, Vietnam affected by sea-level rise during flood season Wassmann et al, Sea level rise cm : 2. About 34, km2 of land area lost in Indonesia affecting 3. About 86 — per cent of land area in Mekong Delta, Vietnam affected by sea- level rise during flood season Wassmann et al, About 40, km2 of land area lost in Vietnam affecting Coastal southeastern Asia becomes suitable for malaria transmission Rogers and Randolph, Population at risk for malaria in Southeast Asia declines by 1 million van Lieshout et al, Number of people experiencing increase in water stress in Southeast Asia increases by 0 — 10 million Arnell, Vegetation biomass in southern Southeast Asia Hadley Centre, About 1.
Grants technical assistance and loans for example, GEF funds are the dominant type of project funding. Many cities in Southeast Asia, including medium-sized cities such as Penang in Malaysia now have a sustainable development initiative. It is in developing sustainable cities.
The Declaration recognizes the need to encourage the development of an ASEAN Climate Change Initiative and support the development of environmentally sustainable cities. To work closely with the international community to better understand and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, including, in particular, the related issues of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sinks;. To agree that the pursuit of climate change and energy security policies should avoid introducing barriers to trade and investment;. To intensify cooperation on the joint research, development and deployment of low emission technologies for the cleaner use of fossil fuels, recognizing that fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in our energy mix;.
To take concrete measures to promote the use of renewable and alternative energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, tide, biomass, bio-fuels and geothermal energy, as well as, for interested parties, civilian nuclear power, while ensuring safety and safeguards that are of current international standards, and environmental sustainability throughout the full life cycle of production and use;.
To improve energy efficiency in key sectors of energy use through capacity building and information sharing of best practices in managing energy use and the adoption of appropriate technologies and practices;. To undertake effective measures towards open and competitive regional and international markets geared towards providing affordable energy at all economic levels to facilitate the adoption of energy-efficient and low-emission technologies.
There are major differences within and across countries. The countries with relatively low adaptive capacity include the poorer countries of Cambodia and Lao PDR while Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are countries with relatively high adaptive capacity Yusuf and Francisco, Capacity development is absolutely essential in bringing change to Southeast Asian cities. Improving the effectiveness and cooperation between organizations in setting priorities and developing capacity that is less donor-driven and more demand responsive is needed.
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The knowledge gap is real. Education on planning for climate change is urgently required. Very few are undertaking research on sustainable urban development. Much of the existing climate research is oriented around technologies, for example, air quality, water and energy, such as fuel cells, bio-energy and bio-fuels. A focus on technology though common is too narrow for Southeast Asia. There are signs of change. In the face of rapid urbanization and global warming, the case for sustainable city research is strong and fast emerging as an important agenda.
More funding is being put into research on the environment, climate change and city including at the national level. Knowledge has become urgent as more and more Southeast Asian cities seek the development of a sustainable city for future urban living. For example, Siemens Singapore in April has set up a Siemens city of the future exhibition and solutions center to profile innovative solutions and technologies for city management of future smart, safe and mobile cities.
New holistic and interdisciplinary research results on Southeast Asian sustainable urban development can be expected in the years ahead as actors get into doing the interdisciplinarity and disseminate their findings. Singapore has started to promote climate change-related research and development after signing the Kyoto Accord in late It is master planning and developing an eco-city in China in partnership with the Chinese government. E2PO has developed a national plan to promote energy efficiency, comprising actions in several areas:.
Promoting the adoption of energy efficient technology and measures by addressing the market barriers to energy efficiency;. Raising awareness to reach out to the public and businesses so as to stimulate energy efficient behavior and practices;. Building capability to drive and sustain energy efficiency efforts and to develop the local knowledge base and expertise in energy management;.
Several other countries have also started to converge on renewable energy. Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have all established renewable energy strategies and targets. Malaysia, for example, has a Five Fuel Diversification Policy since , a small renewable energy power program, Biogen program with a target of 5 per cent or mw of power capacity. Solar, wind, biomass, biogas, hydro, bio-fuels, geothermal and fuel cells are included in the Strategic Plan as well as energy efficiency Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Cagayan de Oro is greening its energy supply and making demand-side improvements with the target to reduce GHG emissions by 10 per cent against forecasted emissions growth.
Although bio-fuel is often pitched as a sustainable energy source, there is concern that the rush to develop it may result in more destruction of old forests to clear the way for oil-palm plantations, contributing to the problem of slash and burn as well as resultant haze pollution in adjoining urban areas.
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There is also a regional shift towards more natural gas, which is desirable in terms of its lower carbon-dioxide emissions. But, natural gas has its obstacles, including delays in constructing pipelines and issue with upstream production, which often releases carbon dioxide unless engineering measures are taken to re-inject the gas.
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But, again there are environmental concerns as to the impact of the river damming on downstream river life and communities vulnerable to drought. Vietnam, in particular, is finding this a major problem, with its exceptionally dry seasons during the past two to three years, leading to low water levels in the reservoirs behind hydro-dams and competition in supply for farmers down river for rice irrigation and for power generation.
Nuclear power has also emerged as a serious possibility in several countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Again, there are many issues here, ranging from economic feasibility to safety and weapons-proliferation concerns that require research and policy development to address. Policies and mechanisms conducive to knowledge dissemination and technology transfer among countries including between advanced developed countries and Southeast Asia are clearly required. Many countries have begun to address climate change issues in different ministries.
Some have formulated national climate change policy with measures for adaptation and mitigation see Table 3. Increasingly, environmental sustainability is mentioned in development plans. By and large, climate change is not mainstreamed in development plans.
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The document still demands revision by related sectors, academics and experts. Science, Technology and Environment Agency has a key role to coordinate across all ministries and local authorities to manage the overall environment throughout Lao PDR. Pragmatic integratedtransport plans for the main urban centre and the formulation of an overall urban transport policy including the possibility of mass public transport are high priority of Lao PDR government facing rapidly increasing volumes of motorized traffic in urbancenters. Brunei has national programs include improvements of transportation infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion, cogeneration power station to reduce emissions of pollutant gases, and full use of unleaded gasoline to reduce air pollution.
Energy efficiency programs in the Philippines are directed by the Department of Energy and guided by an Energy Plan that currently covers the period from to Renewable Electricity Action Plan — More radical strategies are needed — and we need to work on them now Read more. Living with climate change: How to cope in a warmer world Feeding and housing a growing human population when seas are rising and extreme weather hits will be hard — but manageable if we take the right decisions now Read more.
Living with climate change: You can make a difference With climate change, individual behaviour does matter. Living with climate change: Convincing the sceptics Global warming is real, and global warming is here. Its past is long and dramatic and its future shrouded in mystery. Yet despite centuries of research, only now are we starting to understand Earth's complexity.
NEWS Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by with new law A popular new plan makes Sweden the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon targets since the Paris agreement Read more. This is no doubt going to have a devastating impact upon future cities, towns, agricultural areas and freshwater resources located near coastal regions.
The Centre for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets has some detailed images available of the areas of the globe most threatened by sea level rise. With this geological mayhem scheduled to take place over the next several thousand years, the decisions that we are making read: not making in the present take on a new light. Clearly we need to expand the time scale with which we assess the full implications of the climate crisis beyond the current century.
Instead, the temperature control will be locked in and all life forms on Earth will be pressured to adapt for thousands of years. The climate change-driven ecological destruction that we are witnessing today — immeasurable loss of human life, plant and animal species caused by natural disasters such as floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves, the disappearance of vast snow caps, glaciers and almost half of the Arctic — is the result of a mere 0. We can only imagine what a further 1.
It belongs to neither a particular individual nor a particular nation. Nor does it belong to a single generation such as us, our children or our grandchildren. Instead, it belongs to all living creatures both alive now and in the future. Yet the political and economic institutions of our civilisation are fixated on enjoying the present and unable to account for the consequences of our actions on tomorrow.
This may be all too easily observed in our financial behaviour, where individuals, corporations and governments are forever borrowing from the future in order to improve the present. In the same way, the fossil fuelled party of our capitalist global civilisation is in the midst of a financial and ecological borrowing frenzy from the future. And not only are the spoils of our mastery over nature enjoyed by only a minority of the planet, but in geological terms, they are being consumed within an extremely short time-span. In a crisis of modernity that could also be re-interpreted as one of ethics and values , how should we reframe our choices and actions in the present, in light of tomorrow?
Surely it is just a matter of standing in the shoes of all future citizens and asking ourselves what sort of planet they would like to live on. Surely our descendants, hundreds and thousands of years into the future, would wish for, and have a right to, the same stable climate and ocean levels that have allowed the attainment of such an advanced and flourishing civilisation today.
It is none other than this consideration for future human beings and other life forms that should form the yardstick by which we set our mitigation targets — not merely what is politically and economically feasible for the industrialised world today. Climate Change: What Happens after ? He is currently researching the potential of research universities to address the climate and sustainability crisis as part of a Ph.
He is also director of the Environmental Learning Institute , a climate change educational initiative for Japanese businesses and corporations. This article deserves to be widely read — and deeply absorbed into our individual and collective consciousness. Thanks to you both for leaving your valuable comments. To tell the truth, I kind of feel terrible for writing an article that has such a dark message at its core: that whatever the mitigation efforts of future generations, the carbon legacy of our brief passage on Earth is going to plague the wellbeing of billions and dramatically alter the geography of the globe.
My position is simply that we act after we grasping the truth, and the whole truth. For some good news about hardware, I recommend this German film, which I am going to see on Thursday.
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