Asia could potentially face more severe effects of climate change than other parts of the world in the absence of adaptation and mitigation, according to a recent study by the business and economic research arm of consulting firm McKinsey.
"Covid-19 is highlighting the importance of risk and resilience to lives and livelihoods, and as the world focuses on recovery, it is important to not lose sight of the role that climate plays," said Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) director who led the research.
The research summarises the possible impacts of climate change on South Asia frontier countries, including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asian nations.
It said these three South Asian economies have historically seen low levels of regional integration and have a diverse global base of trading partners and investors.
Average temperatures to increase in parts of Asia
The American management consulting firm warns all three countries could see extreme increases in heat and humidity, which may significantly affect workability and livability.
"We estimate that by 2050, between 500 million and 700 million people in frontier Asia could live in regions that have an annual probability of a lethal heatwave of about 20 percent," read the report.
According to analysis by the World Resources Institute, the amount of capital stock at risk of riverine flooding could rise from 0.5 percent of the total today to three percent in 2050, putting a total of $800 billion of stock at risk.
Droughts could become more frequent
As Earth warms, the spatial extent and share of time spent in drought conditions is projected to increase. Freshwater supply in other parts of Asia would be affected by factors such as rainfall patterns and evaporation.
Several parts of Australia could see a decrease in water supply but parts of the Indian subcontinent could see an increase.
The report read, "Climate change would also have the biggest negative impact on Asian crop yield in this group of countries and is expected to see an increase in the share of land changing climate classification between today and 2050."
Economy under threat
By 2050, between $2.8 trillion and $4.7 trillion of gross domestic product in Asia will be at risk every year from a loss of effective outdoor working hours due to higher temperatures and humidity, according to the report.
In frontier Asia, an average seven to 13 percent of GDP could be at risk.
Asian countries with lower levels of GDP per capita would be at risk from the impacts of climate change, and that is why they are relying more on outdoor work and natural capital and may have fewer financial means to adapt, the McKinsey report read.
Adaptation, mitigation through resilient infrastructure
Looking at the measures that could be taken to manage the risks, the research said infrastructure and urban areas are still being built out in many parts of Asia, which gives the region the chance to ensure that what goes up is more resilient and better able to withstand heightened risk.
It is good news, in many ways, that Asia is well placed to adapt, and also lead global adaptation and mitigation efforts.
"Like all parts of the world, Asia can also contribute to reducing emissions. Climate science tells us that further warming will continue until net zero emissions are reached," the report read.
"If policymakers and business leaders can harness the region's innovative spirit, talent, and flexibility, Asia could lead a global response to climate risk by adapting and mitigating the most severe potential consequences," it added.