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South Asia – Pakistan and India: There Is No Option But To Cooperate In Fighting Climate Change

There is no end to chatter on conflict among countries in South Asia but tragically little concern about how climate change threatens their very existence, says an article published by Fortune India.

The article said although India and Pakistan are the most affected by climate change, but this is a problem that no state in South Asia can solve on its own. Fighting climate change by its very nature is a multilateral task.

“Most Indians and Pakistanis—indeed perhaps most South Asians—do not realise that there is most likely a greater number of poor people living in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin than the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa (around 40% of the developing world’s poor people with a daily calorific intake of less than 2200-2400 kcal, live in this region), and therefore the main countries in this basin, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, have no choice but to cooperate.”

It quoted the UN Climate Change Organisation which said by the end of this century, climate change could cut up to 9 per cent of the South Asian economy every year.

Similarly, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report predicts that by 2050, the collective economy of six countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka — will lose an average 1.8 per cent of its annual gross domestic product. And by 2100, the loss will be 8.8 per cent.

“Of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, seven are in India and two in Pakistan, according to the World Economic Forum. Both India and Pakistan have floods and droughts from time to time,” the article cited the problems faced by both countries.

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But it noted that the crisis is under-appreciated by both governments and people. “Global climate change (GCC) is likely to increase food demand by around 300 per cent by 2080 because of higher population, higher income, and demand for bio-fuel; and this rise is likely to create an imbalance between food supply and demand even without the effects of GCC and, as is expected, if there is a decline in food production due to GCC, it is likely that there will be more crises over food supply and demand, and a relentless rise in prices, threatening food security.”

This scenario will prove catastrophic, as climate change will impact agriculture in South Asia, which in turn will affect efforts to reduce poverty.

The writer mentioned the World Bank which said in 2013, that ‘‘in the past few decades a warming trend has begun to emerge over South Asia, particularly in India, which appears to be consistent with the signal expected from human induced climate change’’.

“In some parts of the region, summer temperatures are projected to increase by 3°C–6°C at a scenario of 4°C global warming and by 2°C at a scenario of 2°C global warming by 2100… In almost all countries in South Asia, with a few exceptions related to some crops, food production as of 2030 is expected to decline by up to 4 per cent, 11 per cent and 7 per cent for rice, wheat and cereal grains, respectively, due to climate change-induced land productivity change compared with the baseline food production,” it added.

“Even though most researchers agree that environmental and human security crisis may not cause outright war between India and Pakistan or with/between other countries in the South Asian region in the near future, there is little doubt that such tensions will keep rising,” the writer said.

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