Climate crisis intensifies: Asia becomes the target of extreme weather

The WMO reports Asia is facing significant climate change consequences, with 79 water-related disasters causing thousands of deaths and millions of affected individuals, emphasizing the necessity of climate action.

Climate crisis intensifies: Asia becomes the target of extreme weather
Storm in Asia, by Timur Garifov via Unsplash, September 7th, 2022

29-04-2024

Dara Masita

South and East Asia Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)’s report, “State of the Climate in Asia 2023”, Asia was the region most affected by climate change, weather, and water-related hazards globally in 2023. The impact of climate change can be seen in the number of casualties from floods, storms, heatwaves, and melting glaciers. Asia is also warming faster than the global average, with the temperature in 2023 having risen to 2˚C above the 1961-1990 average.

In 2023, there were 79 hydro-meteorological disasters recorded in Asia with 80 percent of them being floods and storm events, which killed around 2,000 people and affected nine million people. For instance, storms in Myanmar, India, Pakistan, and Nepal are said to have killed hundreds of people and caused flooding.

Eastern Asia has witnessed higher temperatures causing dangerous heat waves. Japan experienced its hottest summer in 2023 with a 1.76˚C temperature increase from the 1991-2020 average. In China, they were experiencing drought with below-normal precipitation levels. This led to food insecurity and a harsher winter, ultimately increasing China’s power demands. In the Tibetan region, the glaciers are melting at an accelerated pace, which may threaten water security.

On top of the extreme weather events, Asia is generally more vulnerable to climate change. Firstly, a lot of Asian countries are heavily dependent on agriculture, which is very sensitive to climate variations. Secondly, a number of Asian countries are densely populated, including China, India, Indonesia, and Japan. Rapid urbanisation contributes to global warming and can exacerbate a region’s vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change by increasing exposure to hazards. Additionally, Asia's coastlines are heavily populated, making them vulnerable to rising sea levels. Thirdly, the infrastructure is often weak in developing Asian countries. The drainage system and the structural integrity of buildings are not as advanced, which makes it hard to adapt to climate risks.

The WMO advises national weather services to improve tailored information for officials working on disaster relief. Furthermore, the organisation highlights that mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change is now a fundamental necessity. Asia is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, hence, it would make sense why climate change is impacting this continent the most. However, it should be noted that almost 50 percent of the global manufacturing output comes out of Asia. Issues such as “carbon outsourcing” should be examined and taken into account. It is not only the responsibility of Asia to mitigate its emissions, but also the world.

 

Sources and further reading:

‘Climate change and extreme weather impacts hit Asia hard’ (World Meteorological Organization, 23 April 2024) <https://wmo.int/news/media-centre/climate-change-and-extreme-weather-impacts-hit-asia-hard> accessed 29 April 2024.

World Meteorological Organisation, ‘State of the Climate in Asia 2023’ (World Meteorological Organisation 2024) WMO-No. 1350 <https://library.wmo.int/idurl/4/68890> accessed 29 April 2024.

‘Climate change: Asia worst hit from disasters in 2023 — UN’ (dw, 23 April 2024) <https://www.dw.com/en/asia-climate-change-disasters/a-68894701> accessed 29 April 2024.

Venkatachalam Anbumozhi et al., ‘Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific: How can countries adapt?’ (Asian Development Bank Institute, 2012) <https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/159335/adbi-climate-change-asia-and-pacific-how-can-countries-adapt-highlights.pdf> accessed 29 April 2024.