Countries in Asia and the Pacific must strike a balance between rising prosperity and rising emission as their success or failure will have repercussions worldwide, a latest report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said.
"The Asia-Pacific region must continue to grow economically to lift millions out of poverty, but it must also respond to climate change to survive. Growing first and cleaning up later is no longer an option, according to "One Plant to Share: Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate" released by the UNDP on Thursday.
"The world’s common future will be hugely affected by the choices that are made in Asia and the Pacific on a low carbon oath," said Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant General Secretary, UNDP.
"What happens in this region – which is home to more than half the world’s population and half of the planet’s megacities – can make a global difference. The report says that "countries of the developing Asia-Pacific are much less locked into the old, carbon-intensive ways of production and consumption," the report says while arguing that countries will need to change the way they manufacture goods, raise crops and livestock and generate energy.
China has committed to lower its carbon intensity of GDP by 40-45 per cent by 2020 to the 2005 level. India is also committed to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25 per cent by 2020 compared to 2005 level, and Indonesia will cut its emissions by 26 per cent by 2020.
The report says that around 40 per cent of Asia Pacific’s population resides in urban settlements. Asian cities also tend to be densely populated with 6,500 people per sq kilometer, compared to 4,500 in Latin America and 4,000 in Europe. Cities with higher concentration of people are likely to be worst affected by climate change as was evident during the devastating floods in Mumbai (2005), Jakarta (2007), Brisbane (2010-11) and Bangkok in 2011.
"By 2026, Asia’s population is likely o reach a tipping point: by then, over half of its population will be urban, and by 2050 the proportion could reach two-thirds," says the reports. Actions in cities will be "make or break" for climate change.
Cities are highly vulnerable to climate change as a whole and are home to a significant number of the poor, located in informal settlements or slums which are highly exposed to climate hazards. Beyond suffering from the effects of climate change,, cities are themselves adding to global warming as major emitter of greenhouse gases. "Cities globally occupy only 2 per cent of land, yet contribute more than two-thirds of GHG primarily through transportation and the use of energy," according to the report.
Waste also contributes around 3 per cent of global emission. In Asia-Pacific cities, with rising affluence, the middle and upper classes are generating increasing volumes of solid waste, it adds.
"Yet despite their vulnerability to the effects of increasing temperature, cities can learn to navigate lower carbon-efficient pathways and adapt to a warmer world," the report says.