Bangladesh could lose more than 9 percent of its gross domestic product by the end of this century due to the impact of climate change, says the Asian Development Bank.
Global warming might cause the country's annual rice production to fall by 23 percent by 2080, according to an ADB report, titled “Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia”, launched in the capital yesterday.
“Low-lying Bangladesh is at the front line of at-risk countries from climate change”, given the vulnerability of the country's coastline to extreme weather events, said the report.
With nearly half the country's population depending on agriculture, human and financial losses could be even higher if the damage from floods, droughts and other extreme weather events is included, it said.
Only one metre rise in sea levels would inundate the coastline and affect 95 million people. And another 100 million would be affected if there were any storm surges, the ADB said.
“Vast crop losses, disappearing arable land, displaced communities and poisoned groundwater -- this is not a horror tale but a very real possibility in future [for Bangladesh] unless current destructive global resource use patterns are changed,” Bindu Lohani, ADB vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development, said at the launching ceremony at a city hotel.
With an economic loss of up to 9.4 percent by 2100, Bangladesh could be one of the hardest-hit countries in South Asia after the Maldives and Nepal, which might lose up to 12.6 percent and 9.9 percent of their economies every year.
The loss for India could be 8.7 percent, Bhutan 6.6 percent and Sri Lanka 6.5 percent, said the ADB.
The average collective loss for six South Asian countries -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka -- could be 1.8 percent by 2050 and 8.8 percent by 2100.
Agricultural production of all these countries except for Nepal might suffer from impacts of temperature rise.
While annual rice production in Bangladesh and other countries could drop by 23 percent by 2080, it could increase by 16 percent in Nepal's hills and mountains.
If the world does not change its resource use patterns, South Asia might need to spend at least $73 billion every year between now and 2100 to adapt to climate change.
The speakers said the impacts and costs of climate change in South Asia would depend largely on how the global community tackles the issue.
All countries must respond individually and collectively to cope with rising sea levels and disrupted water, food and energy supply, and outbreak of diseases.
Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju attended the programme as chief guest. Environment Secretary Shafiqur Rahman Patwari delivered the welcome speech.
Dr Mahfuz Uddin Ahmed, principal climate change specialist of the ADB, presented an overview of the regional study.