Nepal faces losses of over 2pc of GDP by 2050: ADB

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Aug 19, 2014-

Nepal will see an average economic loss of over two percent of the country’s annual GDP by 2050 which could widen almost 10 percent by the turn of the century if the climate change-driven events like melting glaciers go unabated, said a new climate and economics report for South Asia.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, titled ‘Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia’, predicts six South Asian countries of South Asia-Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka-will see an average economic loss of 1.8 percent of their collective GDP every year by 2050, rising sharply to 8.8 percent in 2100.

“The population is extremely vulnerable, not only to the immediate threats of increasingly frequent glacial lake overflows, landslides, flash floods, and droughts, but also to longer-term climate change, which will ultimately reduce water availability and limit crop productivity,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. Without changes to current global behavior, Nepal would see economic losses equivalent to up to 2.2 percent of annual GDP by 2050, widening to 9.9% by 2100.

But if mitigation and adaptation steps are taken, the damage could be limited to around 2.4 percent of GDP by 2100, according to the report.   

“Nepal’s agriculture sector, which employs two-thirds of the labour force, will reap some short-term gains from warmer temperatures and melting snow and ice, which boosts water supplies. But over time, glacial retreat and uncertainty about the summer monsoon’s start and end dates will reduce crop yields and cause food insecurity,” the report said.

“Melting glaciers, which form high-altitude lakes that can suddenly breach and cause catastrophic flooding downstream, also pose a risk to both human settlements and hydropower systems.

In mountainous areas, landslides are likely to increase, threatening lives and infrastructure.”

The report further added that deteriorating and dwindling forests will result in habitat losses for some of the country’s rich flora and fauna, including snow leopards, undermining the country’s appeal for ecotourists.

The cost of climate change adaptation measures in South Asia will depend largely on how the global community tackles the issue, the report says, noting that if the world continues on its path, the region will need to spend at least $73 billion, or an average of 0.86 percent of its GDP, every year between now and 2100 to adapt to the negative impacts.

On the other hand, if countries act together to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2.5°C, the cost of South Asia shielding itself from the worst of the impacts would be nearly halved to around $40.6 billion.  

The report does not provide detailed adaptation cost projections on a country basis, although in the energy sector it notes that a rising gap between demand and supply could see Nepal face an annual adaptation bill of over $118 million in the 2030s, rising by another $100 million in the 2050s. 

Published: 20-08-2014 09:33

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