Hurricanes Florence and Michael and record temperatures across Europe have grabbed global headlines this year. But spare a thought for communities and businesses across Asia, which have suffered a string of particularly severe weather-linked disasters in recent weeks and months. Super-typhoon Mangkhut left a trail of destruction in the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern mainland China in September. Earlier in the year, Japan and parts of China were hit by some of the worst weather in decades.
The monsoon floods that inundated Kerala, in southern India, were the worst in a century. The rest of the world should take note. After all, Asia is an engine of global economic growth. It is a key region for companies from around the world to manufacture in, a source from and sell to. Its ports and airports are among the busiest in the world and are critical to the flow of goods around the planet. beyondbrics Emerging markets guest forum beyondbrics is a forum on emerging markets for contributors from the worlds of business, finance, politics, academia and the third sector.
So climate change disasters in Asia can have ripple effects half a world away. Witness how, in 2011 and early 2012, flooding in Thailand caused damage costing billions of dollars and disrupted supply chains around the globe. Or how the days-long closure of Kansai airport in western Japan, flooded by Typhoon Jebi in September, left manufacturers scrambling for alternative cargo hubs.
Part of Asia’s particular vulnerability to the effects of rising global temperatures stems from sheer geography. Many of its cities and megacities — Shanghai, Mumbai, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta among them — are in low-lying coastal areas susceptible to rising sea levels and storms sweeping in from the oceans. Climate change and rapid urbanization in many parts of Asia are exacerbating this vulnerability. As Asia’s cities expand and global temperatures rise, more and more homes, airports, power plants, warehouses, and factories will find themselves at higher risk of weather-linked disasters. A recent assessment by HSBC found that India and south and south-east Asian countries are most vulnerable to climate risks.