“Particularly on the adaptation side, there is a need to build up a pool of funds to reduce the financial burden of countries that may be called to accommodate large populations displaced by climate change,” she said. “No single country should have to bear the burden of climate-driven refugees on its own.”
Ms. Schaefer-Preuss also called for enhanced investment mechanisms to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, such as ADB’s Carbon Market Initiative and its proposed Future Carbon Fund. She also stressed the need for additional market incentives other than greenhouse gas reductions, such as trading schemes for other noxious gas emissions.
The Asia and Pacific is particularly vulnerable to the growing threat of climate change. Some 1.2 billion people in the region could experience a shortage of freshwater by 2020, while crop yields in Central and South Asia could drop by half between now and 2050, she warned.
Asia’s major coastal cities, including Bangkok, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Mumbai, and Shanghai are vulnerable to flooding and damage from unpredictable weather patterns. Within this century, residents of Tuvalu, the Maldives and costal Bangladesh may become “environmental refugees.”
“The poorest people in the region will suffer first and most. Unless actions are taken now, any progress achieved meeting the Millennium Development Goals could be reversed in just the next generation – during the lives of our children,” Ms. Schaefer-Preuss said.
Developing countries in Asia currently account for 29% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, three times more than its share three decades ago. With the region’s need of around $6 trillion in investments in energy by 2030, the share is expected to rise to 42%.
“Unless specific policies and actions are taken, the region will quickly become the main driver of climate change,” Ms. Schaefer-Preuss warned.