The Effects of Climate Change on Asia

The United States recently officially dropped out of the Paris Agreement. Donald Trump has expressed doubt about climate change on numerous occasions, and the move clearly sets himself apart from his predecessor, Barack Obama. In addition to the U.S. president, there are many more well-known critics of the idea that climate change is the result of human activity, among them former Czech president Vaclav Klaus and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska. However, a report issued by the Asian Development Bank highlights the impacts of climate change for Asia, showing that the consequences are in fact real and should not be underestimated.

The results of general forecasts show that the risk of disastrous flooding in East Asia will increase in most humid Asian monsoon regions due to climate change. If the People’s Republic of China does not reduce its emissions, air pollution will increase there. In the northwestern part of the country, the summer temperature will have increased by 8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if global greenhouse emissions continue to rise.

Dry weather conditions, drought and water scarcity are the consequences of these climate changes in China. As a result, the people from the upper regions in particular, and from the northern and northwestern parts of the country, along with the residents of the southeastern coastal regions, will be forced to migrate. Migration will also increase in the small island states in the Pacific, brought on by losing their territories due to sea level rise.

Southeast Asia is one of the most affected regions by heat extremes. But the report also anticipates heavy rainfall events that may cause violent flooding if the global rise in temperatures continues. The effects of climate change would seriously endanger food security in Southeast Asia. Multiple studies document that this might lead to a decrease in grain and rice harvests in particular. 

The Western Pacific coral reefs will also suffer under future climate change. Today, they still host around one-third of global coral stock, as well as 76 percent of all known coral species. A 4-degree global increase in temperature could lead to the collapse of all coral reef systems in the Western Pacific, due to mass coral bleaching. Even with a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, it is expected that 89 percent of coral reefs suffer from coral bleaching. This will have lasting effects, principally on fishing and tourism in Southeast Asia.

By the 2030s, WHO estimates that climate change will cause up to 800 additional child deaths per year due to diarrheal disease. It also expects an increase in the numbers of malaria-related deaths due to the consequences of climate change in Southeast Asia. Child mortality rates and rates of illness and fatalities due to malaria would increase in South Asia as well.

In Central Asia, the rate of mortality due to undernutrition among children under five years of age will increase in particular, mainly due to the negative impact of climate change and increasing temperatures on grain harvests. Annual mean precipitation may decline by 20 to 50 percent in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan in the late 21st century.

Link to study


Coauthor of this report is Dr. Nicole Glanemann, Assistant Professor of Climate Adaption Strategies at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Glanemann explores Sustainable Supply Chains in close collaboration with the members of the Supply Chain Management Group at the WHU. In addition, she leads the flagship project on “Economics of Adaptation” at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). In close cooperation with the Global Adaptation Strategies Group at PIK, she is investigating the various impacts of climate change on global infrastructure and supply chains. Additionally, her research is devoted to advancing the theory of adaptation and mitigation. On May 1, 2015, she was appointed jointly by the PIK and WHU as Assistant Professor of Climate Adaptation Strategies.

Reuters article

Southeast Asia is one of the most affected regions by heat extremes due to climate change

Dr. Nicole Glanemann, Assistant Professor of Climate Adaption Strategies at WHU