Most Asia-Pacific countries ill-prepared for natural disasters: ESCAP

Source: The post is based on the article “Most Asia-Pacific countries ill-prepared for natural disasters: ESCAP” published in Down To Earth on 10th May 2023

What is the News?

According to a new study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), most countries in Asia and the Pacific are inadequately prepared to manage the rising challenges of extreme weather events and natural disasters. 

What are the key highlights from the UNESCAP report on the Asia Pacific region?

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is one of the most rapidly developing regions of the world, with a significant proportion of the global population.

Over the past 60 years, temperatures in the region have increased faster than the global mean. 

Extreme, unpredictable weather events and natural hazards have become more frequent and intense Tropical cyclones, heatwaves, floods and droughts have brought immense loss of life and displacement, damaging people’s health and pushing millions into poverty.

Of the 10 countries most affected by these disasters, six are in the region.

The costs of climate change are also too high. The annual average losses from natural and biological hazards in Asia and the Pacific are approximately $780 billion.

What are the challenges faced by the Asia Pacific region in tackling Climate Change?

The region is also home to most of the world’s low-lying cities and vulnerable small island states.

Countries in the region also lack the necessary data as well as means to support adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Hence, in the absence of decisive action, climate change will remain a leading cause of poverty and inequality across the region.

What are the steps recommended by UNESCAP?

The report enlisted the changes required to close the emissions gap in three key sectors:

Energy: Some 85% of the region’s primary energy supply came from fossil fuels in 2020.

– There is a need for rapid uptake of renewable energy. But this requires restructuring national energy systems, new technical capacities and significant investment in supply and infrastructure. 

– The report stresses cross-border electricity grids to increase the share of renewable energy.

Transport: The transport sector, primarily powered by oil, should be shifted to a low-carbon pathway.

– This can be achieved by reducing transport distance through integrated land use, planning, shifting to sustainable transport modes with low-carbon or net-zero-carbon emissions, as well as improving vehicle and fuel efficiency.

Integrate climate considerations into regional trade agreements: Trade must be climate-smart — 85% of the regional trade agreements signed since 2005 to which at least one Asia-Pacific economy is party contained climate-related provisions. 

– The private sector must be encouraged to work towards a low-carbon pathway and sustainability should be ingrained into business operations.

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