UN Climate Change meeting held in Bangkok

pix 4Scientists and other experts from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met at the U.N.’s regional headquarters in Bangkok last week where they presented findings on how climate change is affecting Thailand and Southeast Asia as part of preparatory work for a global IPCC conference later this year.

Experts from the IPCC outlined the findings of their Fifth Assessment Report. While the report issues serious warnings about the perils the world is facing from climate change, it also sounds an optimistic note, finding that mankind “has the means to limit global warming and build a more prosperous, sustainable future, including through adaptation to the changing climate.”

The Bangkok meeting is one of several being held around the world to discuss the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report in preparation for negotiating a new global agreement on climate change in Paris in December.

Thailand and Southeast Asia were the subjects of two presentations at the Bangkok conference. Dr. Seree Supratid, director of the Climate Change and Disaster Center at Rangsit University, and an adviser to several Thai governments on climate change and disaster risk management, gave a presentation that compared Thailand’s experiences with massive flooding in 2011 to the United States and the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Professor Fredolin Tangang of Malaysia examined the potential effects of climate change on the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region as a whole. Other speakers also focused on the region.

“Continued high emissions will increase risks for Southeast Asia. Key issues range from coastal and river flooding, with the potential for widespread damage, to heat-related mortality, to water and food shortages following drought,” said Purnamita Dasgupta, a coordinating lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report.

“A wide diversity of adaptation options can help reduce these risks while building vibrant communities and robust economies,” said Dr. Dasgupta, who is acting head of the Environmental Economics Unit at the University of Delhi’s Institute of Economic Growth.

Seree’s presentation on Thailand’s floods found that disasters expose failures in national development, and that Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation need to be integral components of development planning and implementation to increase resilience and sustainability. The government needs to be proactive is a key lesson learned from the floods.

Prof. Tangang said there have not been enough studies about climate change and its projected impacts on Southeast Asia. The few that do exist reach different conclusions, but common points of agreement are that extreme precipitation events will become more frequent, and that sea levels will rise by the end of the century.

That presents a serious challenge for food security, as Thailand and Viet Nam account for 51 percent of world rice exports. A rise in sea level would bring salt water into delta and rice-growing areas, rendering them unfit for growing the grain that is the staple food in Asia.



Thailand Focus August 24, 2015
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