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COUNTDOWN

CO2 Budget Depletion

How does the Arctic affect

Climate Vulnerability
in Asia?

Some of the most devastating impacts are felt in the southeastern regions–far from the continent’s Arctic scapes. In southeastern Asia, this rapid polar warming has exacerbated recent disasters, including persistent heat waves, powerful storms, drought, cold spells, and flooding.

The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world  (Rantananen et al., 2022), and the ripple effects of such rapid change can affect the entire Asian continent.

The Asian continent has 11 out of the 20 countries identified as the most at risk of climate related disasters over the decade 2000-2019 and nine in the top 20 for 2019 alone (Global Climate Risk Index 2021). Socio-economic impacts of climate change have a negative impact on people’s livelihoods and wider economies. Read more on our Socio Economic Impacts page. 

As the Arctic snow and ice melts, more of the sun’s energy is absorbed rather than reflected back to space. Thus temperatures around the world rise, as the Arctic is less able to act as the global refrigerator.

This warming is not just localised to the Arctic, however, but extends globally. Not only are temperatures rising throughout Asia, leading to more heat stress events and loss in economic productivity, but a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which can increase the intensity of storms (IPCC AR6 WG1, 2021).

Melt from Greenland is currently the world’s largest contributor to sea level rise. Even if all fossil fuel emissions are cut immediately and further warming stymied, the existing destabilisation of the Greenland ice cap through Arctic warming guarantees at least 27cm of sea level rise (Box et al., 2022). Read more about how sea level rise threatens Bangladesh here.

Equatorial waters, such as the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea, are seeing the fastest rise of seas, due largely to ocean dynamics. 

In addition to flooding territory, salt water intrusion can lead to crop failure and even drought–in areas not covered by rising waters, especially when the changing climate alters previously predictable patterns of precipitation.

When coupled with powerful cyclones, sea level rise also compounds storm damage as higher seas increase storm surge and flooding.

Regional STORIES

India, home to 1.4 billion people, is a country with diverse geography including the Thar desert in the west, the tropical south, the Indo-Gangetic plain, and the Himalayas. This provides for a range of different climatic zones, and therefore, potential climate risks, within the country. One of the most pronounced climate phenomena in India is the monsoon, which starts each year around June and tends to peak in August.  

Monsoon rains have important societal impacts. Drier years have negative implications for agriculture and water security, while wetter years can result in massive flooding. India typically receives 70-90% of its annual precipitation from the monsoon. However, the monsoon is becoming increasingly unreliable and difficult to predict due to climate change. This is especially the case during El Niño phases, during which the Eastern Pacific is warmer than average, and trade winds that draw moist air over the Indian subcontinent are weaker than usual. A strong El Niño phase is developing in summer 2023, and India has already been hit hard by heavy rains and flooding, with waterlogging and flooding issues reported across 94% of cities in the country.  

The ongoing monsoon mayhem has resulted in flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides. As of 19 July, these events have caused losses of over US$500 million and tragically claimed over 150 lives across India. 125 deaths have been reported by Himachal Pradesh alone.  Northeastern Assam and Sikkim states have also suffered mudslides, as 14,000 people in Assam have been forced into relief camps, with a further 4,000 affected. 

Glacial lake flooding started on 4 October in mountainous Sikkim and left a death toll of at least 74. One hundred people were reported missing and the flooding impacted around 22,000 people.   

Climate change is a major driver of increasing monsoon uncertainty and glacial melting in the Indian Himalayas, which form part of a region referred to as the world’s Third Pole because it contains so much glacial ice, surpassed in scale only by the polar regions. The Third Pole holds significant importance in regulating the Earth’s climate system.

The Arctic’s impact on climate change in the Himalayas is mainly channeled through the cryosphere, which encompasses ice and snow-covered areas including glaciers and polar ice caps. The melting of Arctic ice has the potential to modify atmospheric circulation patterns, therefore, it can drive glacial melting in India’s Himalayas.   

Climate change is a major driver of increasing monsoon uncertainty. This is because the monsoon forms based on heat differentials between the South Asian landmass and the surrounding oceans. The atmospheric circulation patterns that have historically contributed to a consistent monsoon are now being disrupted by rapid global warming. One reason for this disruption is that not all regions of the globe are warming at the same rate: the Arctic is warming at a rate four times faster than the global average. Due in part to rapidly declining Arctic sea ice cover, the Arctic is experiencing a positive feedback loop by which less sunlight is reflected by ice and warming therefore accelerates. This amplified warming can alter the jet stream at mid latitudes, with potential downstream impacts on the Indian monsoon. 

The monsoon season in India has brought contrasting weather patterns across different regions. While northern and northwestern states like Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have experienced excessive rainfall, southern and eastern regions such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Telangana have faced unusually dry conditions, receiving significantly less rainfall than normal. The uneven distribution of rainfall is having a significant impact on crops such as rice, vegetables, and pulses. While floods have damaged standing crops in northern India, delayed planting in the south has also affected agricultural productivity. Consequently, the prices of certain vegetables, including tomatoes, have reached record highs. 

Changes in the climate patterns that contribute to the monsoon make it difficult to forecast rains and adequately prepare for wetter or drier conditions. It indicates the urgency in developing adequate adaptation measures in India, as well as reducing global emissions to mitigate climate change.   

Read our blog: SDGs On Thin Ice: Arctic Warming and Climate Crisis in India

In Bangladesh, the southeastern region received 342 milimeters of rain on August 7th, which was the highest amount since 1988. Officials reported that monsoon rains and subsequent flooding in southeast Bangladesh have affected at least 1.2 million people. According to Oxfam nearly 300,000 people in Cox’s Bazar have been impacted, with thousands having been displaced. In Bandarban (Chattogram region), around 30.000 people were stranded, with hundreds losing their homes due to landslides.  

Additionally, Bangladesh is currently facing its most severe dengue outbreak on record, with over 135,000 cases reported and more than 600 fatalities since April. WHO’s Alert and Response Director, Abdi Mahamud, said the climate crisis and this year’s El Niño weather pattern are worsening the problem. Although dengue fever is typically endemic in Bangladesh, with cases usually surging during the monsoon season, this year, the increase in cases began as early as the end of April. The record-breaking number of dengue cases and deaths in Bangladesh can be traced back to the unusual amount of rainfall, coupled with high temperatures and humidity. These conditions have resulted in a significant rise in the mosquito population across the country, according to WHO. Such warm and wet conditions are conducive to the breeding of disease-carrying mosquitoes. As global temperatures continue to rise due to fossil fuel emissions, similar outbreaks are likely to emerge in new regions. WHO warns that the worldwide number of dengue cases has already increased eight-fold in the last two decades. 

Read our blog: SDGs On Thin Ice: Arctic Warming and Climate Crisis in Bangladesh

As monsoon season has arrived, countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam have been experiencing heavy and prolonged rainfall, leading to devastating landslides and floods.

Climate change is a major driver of increasing monsoon uncertainty. This is because the monsoon forms based on heat differentials between the South Asian landmass and the surrounding oceans. The atmospheric circulation patterns that have historically contributed to a consistent monsoon are now being disrupted by rapid global warming. One reason for this disruption is that not all regions of the globe are warming at the same rate: the Arctic is warming at a rate four times faster than the global average. Due in part to rapidly declining Arctic sea ice cover, the Arctic is experiencing a positive feedback loop by which less sunlight is reflected by ice and warming therefore accelerates.  Research into a past warm period in Earth’s history suggests that continued climate warming is linked to more intense precipitation over South Asia and that lower Arctic sea ice extent leads to a stronger South Asian monsoon, therefore similar mechanisms may be at play presently. 

Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the southeastern region received 342 milimeters of rain on August 7th, which was the highest amount since 1988. Officials reported that monsoon rains and subsequent flooding in southeast Bangladesh have affected at least 1.2 million people. According to Oxfam nearly 300,000 people in Cox’s Bazar have been impacted, with thousands having been displaced. In Bandarban (Chattogram region), around 30.000 people were stranded, with hundreds losing their homes due to landslides. 

Vietnam 

Vietnam is also experiencing heavier rainfall than normal, with many areas reporting record rainfall and experiencing higher volumes of rain than average. Rainfall levels in both the southwest and southeast regions have surpassed those of the same period last year, with increases ranging from 50% to 130%. Notably, the Soc Trang Province has seen an astonishing 247% increase. Meanwhile, in the Central Highlands, rainfall has risen by 60-70%. The heavy rainfall has been triggering floods and landslides, having already led to heavy damage and dozens of deaths. From August 2nd to 7th, these extreme events resulted in the damage of 351 houses and 176 hectares of rice fields and other crops in North Vietnam.  

Cambodia

As climate change takes hold, Cambodians are also seeing changes such as higher temperatures, a less predictable monsoon and increasing floods and droughts. At the beginning of July, the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, experienced the most intense rainfall in the past three years, resulting in flash floods that submerged several streets and roads. On August 2nd, widespread flooding hit nine Cambodian provinces, impacting residential areas, infrastructure, and rice crops. Nearly 7,000 homes housing over 7,000 families and more than 10,000 hectares of rice fields were affected. As the monsoon season continues, the risk to public health by vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, also grows stronger. Stagnant water following heavy rainfall and flooding is the biggest contributor to increased transmission of mosquito-borne disease. According to the Ministry of Health, Cambodia has seen 4,668 cases of dengue fever and 10 deaths in the past six months. These figures indicate a worrisome surge, almost doubling last year’s numbers. As the monsoon season persists, maintaining vigilance against the threat of dengue fever has become increasingly important. 

Nepal, home to 30 million inhabitants, is a country with diverse topography ranging from the low-lying plains in the south to the highest peaks in the Himalayas and the world. This provides for a range of different climatic zones, and therefore, potential climate risks, within the country. One of the most pronounced climate phenomena in Nepal is the South Asian monsoon, which starts each year around June and tends to peak in August.  

Monsoon rains have important societal impact, as drier years have negative implications for agriculture and water security, while wetter years can result in massive flooding. Nepal typically receives about 80% of its annual precipitation from the monsoon. However, the monsoon is becoming increasingly unreliable and difficult to predict due to climate change. This is especially the case during El Niño phases, during which the Eastern Pacific is warmer than average, and trade winds that draw moist air over the Indian subcontinent are weaker than usual. A strong El Niño phase is developing in June 2023, and Eastern Nepal has already been hit hard by heavy rains, flooding, and landslides, starting June 17, with 6 dead and 28 missing.  

Climate change is a major driver of increasing monsoon uncertainty and severity. This is because the monsoon forms based on heat differentials between the South Asian landmass and the surrounding oceans. The atmospheric circulation patterns that have historically contributed to a consistent monsoon are now being disrupted by rapid global warming. One reason for this disruption is that not all regions of the globe are warming at the same rate: the Arctic is warming at a rate four times faster than the global average. Due in part to rapidly declining Arctic sea ice cover, the Arctic is experiencing a positive feedback loop by which less sunlight is reflected by ice and warming therefore accelerates. This amplified warming can alter the jet stream at mid latitudes, with potential downstream impacts on the South Asian monsoon. 

Changes in monsoon patterns make it difficult to forecast rains and adequately prepare for wetter or drier conditions. For example, just three weeks before the deadly flooding and landslides in Eastern Nepal, meteorologists predicted below-average monsoon rainfall. This indicates the urgency in developing adequate adaptation measures in Nepal, as well as reducing global emissions to slow climate change.  

Spring 2023 has gripped Thailand in continual heatwaves, which spiked in April with temperatures exceeding 45°C. Combined with the humidity, the real-feel temperature for parts of the country was a sizzling 54. This high heat index forced stay-inside orders. Although Arctic is geographically far away, its changes hit home. For example, as sea ice is lost, less sunlight is reflected and more is absorbed as heat, leading to warming in the Arctic and around the world.   

Thailand’s climate is tropical with El Niño and La Niña events contributing significantly to annual temperature and rainfall variability. Arctic sea ice melting is anticipated to contribute to more frequent, stronger El Niño events, which relate to increased temperatures, and consequences like water scarcity and drought. With a brewing El Niño event underway, these abnormal heatwaves that have held Thailand this spring are expected throughout 2023.  

Temperatures in the Thailand are expected to rise by 1.8°C-2.2°C by 2050. This warming is likely to cause heat stress in crops and health impacts in humans. According to research conducted nearby in the Philippines, key crops are likely to fall by 10% for every 1°C increase above the 30°C mark—well below the current heat index, leading to food insecurity. Heat stress also has economic implications by reducing human efficiency.  

Beyond the immediate consequences of temperature rise, heating is also associated with typhoons and sea level rise. Located in the global ‘typhoon belt’, Thailand lies directly in the path of many typhoons. Warming air enables the atmosphere to hold onto more moisture, increasing the likelihood of powerful storms. Additionally, sea level rise in Thailand is modelled to put Bangkok underwater as early as mid-century and is already threatening coastal communities through coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and salination of freshwater sources. Greenland melt is currently the largest contributor to sea level rise around the world.  

Thailand is another example of how the most vulnerable and least contributing countries, with less than 0.75% of global emissions, are the most exposed to climate change impacts. 

Spring 2023 has gripped the Lao PDR in continual heatwaves, which spiked in May with temperatures topping 43.5°C., nearly a degree hotter than the previous record set only in April. Combined with the humidity, the real-feel temperature for parts of the country was a sizzling 50°C. Though the Arctic is geographically far away, its changes hit home. For example, as sea ice is lost, less sunlight is reflected and more is absorbed as heat, leading to warming in the Arctic and around the world.   

Laos’ climate is tropical with El Niño and La Niña events contributing significantly to annual temperature and rainfall variability. Arctic sea ice melting is anticipated to contribute to more frequent, stronger El Niño events, which relate to increased temperatures, and consequences like water scarcity and drought. With a brewing El Niño event underway, these abnormal heatwaves that have held Laos this spring are expected throughout 2023.  

Extreme heatwaves are expected to become increasingly common, increasing between three- and tenfold by century’s end, per a 2022 study. This warming is likely to cause heat stress in crops and health impacts in humans. According to research conducted nearby in the Philippines, key crops are likely to fall by 10% for every 1°C increase above the 30°C mark—well below the current heat index, leading to food insecurity. Heat stress also has economic implications by reducing human efficiency.  

Beyond the immediate consequences of temperature rise, heating is also associated with typhoons. Although Laos is a landlocked country, it is still hit by an average of six typhoons annually, most recently by Noru, which impacted Xékong in September 2022. Warming air enables the atmosphere to hold onto more moisture, increasing the likelihood of powerful storms.  

The Lao PDR is another example of how the most vulnerable and least contributing countries, with less than 0.06% of global emissions, are the most exposed to climate change impacts. 

Spring 2023 has gripped India in continual heatwaves, which spiked in mid-May as temperatures reached 46.2°C in parts of the country’s capital. In Mumbai, 13 people died from heatstroke at the Maharashtra Bhushan award, a further 50-60 were hospitalised. All educational institutions in West Bengal were forced to close for a week at the heat’s peak. Although Arctic is geographically far away, its changes hit home. For example, as sea ice is lost, less sunlight is reflected and more is absorbed as heat, leading to warming in the Arctic and around the world.   

India’s climate is influenced by El Niño and La Niña events, which contribute significantly to annual temperature and rainfall variability. Arctic sea ice melting is anticipated to contribute to more frequent, stronger El Niño events, which relate to increased temperatures, and consequences like water scarcity and drought. With a brewing El Niño event underway, these abnormal heatwaves and drought that have held India this spring are expected throughout 2023.  

Temperatures in India are expected to rise by 1.8°C-2.2°C by 2050. This warming is likely to cause heat stress in crops and health impacts in humans. According to research conducted elsewhere in southeast Asia, key crops are likely to fall by 10% for every 1°C increase above the 30°C mark—well below the current heat index, leading to food insecurity. Heat stress also has economic implications by reducing human efficiency.  

Beyond the immediate consequences of temperature rise, heating is also associated with typhoons and sea level rise. Located near the global ‘typhoon belt’, India lies directly in the path of many typhoons. Warming air enables the atmosphere to hold onto more moisture, increasing the likelihood of powerful storms. Additionally, sea level rise in India currently threatens 1.4 billion people directly though coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and salination of freshwater sources. Major Indian cities may be inundated with sea level rise by 2050.   

While India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, it is also one of the countries least prepared for the climate crisis. Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world for global climate change.  

The Philippines comprises 7,100 islands and is extremely exposed and susceptible to changes in weather patterns (Liu et al., 2021). For example, as of May 2023, the southern city, Dumaguete, has now experienced 49 consecutive months of above average temperatures. Though the Arctic is geographically far away, its changes hit home. For example, as sea ice is lost, less sunlight is reflected and more is absorbed as heat, leading to warming in the Arctic and around the world.   

The Filipino climate is tropical with El Niño and La Niña events contributing significantly to annual temperature and rainfall variability (USAID, 2017). Arctic sea ice melting is anticipated to contribute to more frequent, stronger El Niño events (Liu et al., 2022), which relate to increased temperatures, and consequences like water scarcity and drought (Cinco et al., 2016). With a brewing El Niño event underway, 2023 is expected to be abnormally hot and dry.  

Temperatures in the Philippines are expected to rise by 1.8°C-2.2°C by 2050. This warming is likely to cause heat stress in crops and health impacts in humans. According to research conducted in the Philippines, key crops are likely to fall by 10% for every 1°C increase above the 30°C mark (IFPRI, 2015), leading to food insecurity. Heat stress also has economic implications by reducing human efficiency. Increased temperatures also raise the risk of the vector- and waterborne diseases that have led to more than 65,000 deaths between 2010-2019 (Department of Health, Philippines, 2012; WHO, 2016; Ordinario, 2019).  

Beyond the immediate consequences of temperature rise, heating is also associated with typhoons and sea level rise. Located in the global ‘typhoon belt’, the Philippines experiences an average of 19-20 typhoons annually. Warming air enables the atmosphere to hold onto more moisture, increasing the likelihood of powerful storms, such as 2021’s Super Typhoon Odette. Additionally, sea level rise in the Philippines is modelled to be 10-20% above the global average (Kahana et al., 2016) and is already threatening coastal communities through coastal flooding, shoreline erosion and salination of freshwater sources. Greenland melt is currently the largest contributor to sea level rise around the world.  

The Philippines is another example of how the most vulnerable and least contributing countries, with less than 0.4% of global emissions, are the most exposed to climate change impacts (Ritchie and Roser, 2020).  

 

April and May are usually Thailand’s hottest months of the year. Halfway through April and 2023 is proving to be no exception. On April 15, the Asian country set a new national record of 45.5°C (114°F), surpassing the 44.6°C set at the end of the month in 2016. At 15°N, Thailand is one of a dozen Asian countries experiencing their worst spring heatwave in which real-feel temperatures are pushing the limits of human survivability.

Beyond human health, however, this heatwave has implications for all sectors of the regional and global economy with tendrils extending into education, agriculture and food security, heat stress and productivity, and energy use.

After the devastating heatwaves across India and Pakistan in 2022, the World Weather Attribution group cited the heatwaves as “a glimpse of the region’s future”. A year later, and this future is solid. Why? Despite global commitments to the contrary, 2022 marked another year of record greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere. These gases insulate the earth and trap solar radiation, leading to global heating. In the Arctic, this effect is amplified by the melting of sea ice, which exposes dark [ocean] surfaces that absorb more radiation. This is at the core of one of the feedback loops driving planetary warming.

March 2023 saw the second-lowest polar sea ice extent and was also the world’s 2nd warmest month on record (NOAA). March was the 529th straight month with higher-than-normal temperatures (Copernicus), meaning that anyone younger than 44 has never lived in a month below the long-term average.

Meteorological offices throughout the world, in the United States, UK, Australia and Japan, have all indicated the likelihood of an El Niño event in 2023. El Niño patterns are associated with warmer periods, which could further shatter records and give a pronounced glimpse into the planet’s future. Thailand’s 2016 high temperature record was set during an El Niño period, and 2016 remains the Earth’s warmest year to date.

Bangladesh has been enduring a record-breaking heatwave in April 2023, with temperatures in Dhaka reaching 40.5°C on 16 April for the first time in 58 years. Not only is the heat extremely uncomfortable for everyone affected, but it has negative impacts on human health, agriculture, and labour productivity.

Though the relatively cold Arctic seems far away from sweltering Bangladesh, there is evidence that Arctic change is linked to extreme weather around the world. This is because the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world on average, in part because the loss of reflective snow and ice drives an ever-faster feedback loop of warming.

In turn, an imbalance in the heat differentials between the cooler northern latitudes and the rest of the world causes changes in atmospheric circulation. These changes can manifest as periods of unusually hot or cold temperatures elsewhere in the world, such as the heatwave in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is also threatened by sea level rise. Read more about how sea level rise affects Bangladesh here.

Between June and August of 2022, China was scorched by its worst heatwave to date (Feng, 2022) – possibly even the globe’s most severe heat event on record (Le Page, 2022).

China, by way of its entry into the Arctic shipping sphere, is a significant contributor to the black carbon and other shipping emissions that escalate the greenhouse warming effects in the Arctic, which are felt across the world (Backman et al, 2021).

The persistent 2022 summer heat was compounded by drought and resulted in major impacts across various sectors. As multiple river levels decreased, and the country’s largest lake, Poyang Lake, was reduced to a quarter of its original size, over 300,000 residents were faced with water supply disruptions and hydroelectric plants experienced a drop in output by up to 50% in certain provinces (Indian Express, 2022; Al Jazeera, 2022; The New York Times, 2022).

The ensuing energy crisis was exacerbated by a heat-driven record demand in electricity throughout 19 provinces, which prompted rolling blackouts and forced factories, shopping malls and other businesses to shut down (Ziwen, 2022; Newburger, 2022).

Luckily, the dry and hot conditions caused limited crop damage (Global Times, 2022).

Altogether, the double climate whammy led to economic losses of over US$400 million in July alone (Newburger, 2022; Indian Express, 2022).

In October, the World Weather Attribution found that the drought across the Northern Hemisphere extratropics, China included, was made at least 20 times more likely by human-induced climate change (Schumacher et al., 2022).

Climate change is increasing rainfall associated with tropical cyclones, and the warming Indian Ocean is increasing cyclone intensity (Clarke and Otto, 2022), meaning the region is at risk of experiencing more storms like the 2020 Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan, which took 128 lives and affected 13.6 million people (Nagchoudhary and Paul, 2020).

Hitting West Bengal as a category 5 tropical cyclone, Amphan was the costliest storm ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean, causing more than US$13 billion in damage (Ibid.).

In May 2021, India’s Northeast was again hit by a catastrophic storm, as the Super Cyclone Yaas wreaked havoc across Odisha, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, causing up to US$3 billion in damage (Podlaha, 2021). This meant a 1.7% loss in GDP for the city of Kolkata, and 0.1% for India overall (Sikdar, 2021).

Roughly one-tenth of all tropical cyclones world-wide affect the Indian subcontinent’s 8000+ km long coastline, exposing low-lying lands to storm surges, coastal erosion and extreme floods, ultimately causing destruction of property, infrastructure and vegetation as well as loss of lives (EPW, 2021).

Between 1970 and 2019, India was battered by 117 tropical cyclones, leading to more than 40,000 fatalities; half of which occurred throughout the first decade of said time span (Business Standard, 2021; Ministry of Earth Science, 2022). Worryingly, research also warns that there may be a possible relationship between Arctic sea ice loss and changes to the Indian monsoon rainfall extremes (Chaterjee et al., 2021).  

Dr. M. Ravichandran, secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, makes this link clear: “Climate change in Arctic circle [sic] is worrisome even for our region as it impacts our Indian summer monsoon rainfall. Some studies indicate that the extreme heat and rainfall events are also leading to ice melting in that region” (TNN, 2021).

Since the onset of the monsoon season in June 2023, rainfall and flooding have resulted in 226 fatalities. More than 547,000 individuals have been evacuated and rescued, with more than 5,800 damaged houses reported. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has set up 349 relief camps and 249 medical camps throughout the country (ECHO, 28 Sep 2023).

More than 79,000 malaria cases were confirmed in September (ECHO, 4 Sep 2023).

In August, heavy monsoon rain flooded the Sutlej River, destroying levees and villages and submerging over 153,000 acres of cropland (ECHO, 31 Aug 2023).

In June 2022, Pakistan’s monsoon brought an approximate 436% increase in rainfall in the worst affected southernmost provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, with national rainfall for both July and August exceeding the country’s 30-year average by 181-190% (Pakistan Meteorological Department, 2022a; Pakistan Meteorological Department, 2022b). Out of the 33 million affected people (ECHO Flash, 2022), over 1,500 people lost their lives (458 of whom were children) (National Disaster Management Authority, 2022), making the flood the country’s deadliest disaster since 2010. 

At the flood’s worst, one-third of Pakistan was submerged, with the Indus River having overflowed and created a 100 kilometre wide inland lake across Sindh. Similarly, Lake Manchar overflowed on 6 September and inundated nearby settlements that were home to hundreds of thousands of people (NASA Earth Observatory, 2022). 

As of early September 2022, over 1.5 million houses have been damaged in Sindh province alone, which equals 88% of overall damages to houses (OCHA, 2022). Moreover, at least 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land were damaged in Sindh. 269 bridges, 6,700 kilometres of roads and 1,460 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed (OCHA, 2022), along with at least 12 dam bursts in Balochistan (The New Humanitarian, 2022). In addition, 18,590 schools were damaged or destroyed (Save the Children, 2022). Initial assessments of the flood’s economic damage reached at least US$30 billion (Business Standard, 2022). 

Under 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by Pakistan while the country is ranked 5th among countries most affected by climate-related extreme events (Our World in Data, n.d.), the 2022 flood disaster is a salient example of climate injustice and the obligation of high-polluting nations to compensate for loss and damage.

Read our blog: SDGs On Thin Ice: Arctic Warming and the Climate Crisis in Pakistan

Every year, the monsoon brings devastating floods. In 2022, more than nine million people were affected across Bangladesh and India and over 318 people died as a result, while roughly 4,000 villages, one million hectares of farmland, hundreds of roads and other critical infrastructure, and 155,000 homes were damaged (IFRC, 2022; Kapoor, 2022; Reliefweb, 2022a; Reliefweb, 2022b).

Over 2,500 new cases of disease resulted from the floods (IFRC, 2022). Being a low-lying delta nation, Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to excessive monsoon rains.

In the 2020 monsoon, roughly one million homes were inundated as the country experiences its most prolonged and extensive flooding in two decades. The widespread devastation triggered a Green Delta Insurance payout of US$32 to all enrolled households (World Food Programme, 2021).

By 2030, the number of Bangladeshi households affected by floods will increase more than twelve-fold compared to 2015 (Khatun and Saadat, 2021). Bangladesh is also highly vulnerable to sea level rise, much of which is driven by melting on Greenland. Read more about this here

Keeping in mind that the nation is only responsible for 0.56% of the world’s emissions (Our World in Data, n.d.), its disproportionate toll by climate change is a salient example of climate injustice.

In December 2021, Category 5 Super Typhoon Odette struck the Philippines, affecting nearly two million people, taking 410 lives, and causing damages worth more than US$1.02 billion; the second-costliest in the Philippines’ history (UNHCR Philippines, n.d.; OCHA, 2022).

Five months later in April 2022, Tropical Storm Agaton hit the Philippines, taking another 214 lives and affecting roughly 2.300.000 people, nearly half of whom were displaced from their homes (Reliefweb, 2022).

Multiple times a year, the Philippines experience severe flooding which lead to the displacement of thousands (Climate Change Knowledge Portal, n.d.).

As of mid August 2022, at least three floods have struck the archipelagic country and some of its most densely populated cities, including Metro Manila and Quezon City (Cayabyab, 2022; Floodlist, 2022). The highly exposed and increasingly urbanising country suffers an annual economic loss of US$500-625 million (Climate Change Knowledge Portal, n.d.).

While flooding is already the second most frequently occurring hazard after storms in the Philippines, under the RCP8.5 pathway, the country will see a 61.000 people increase in population affected and US$451 million in damages by flooding every year (World Bank Group, 2021).

Between 1978 and 2018, floods killed 2.847 people and affected roughly 30 million, while causing a total of US$3.5 billion in economic damage (Alcantara, 2019). One-fourth of these fatalities, a whooping 68% of people affected, and over two-thirds of the economic damage occurred in the last decade of said time span, indicating that flood-related impacts are on the rise (Alcantara, 2019).

The India-Pakistan heatwave between March and June 2022, which affected 70% of India by the end of April and led to its worst energy shortage in over six years, was made approximately 30 times more likely by climate change induced by humans (Zachariah et al., 2022).

Hitting the subcontinent’s breadbasket region the hardest, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Balochistan saw losses of up to 50% for summer crops such as wheat, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits.

Already in the current climate, on a typical summer day, labour productivity losses in New Delhi are reaching approximately 15-20 minutes per hour of work (Parsons et al., 2021).

Due mostly to the pull of improved livelihood opportunities, studies on heatwaves in Pakistan have identified a statistically significant link between heat stress and long-term migration (Mueller, Gray and Kosec, 2014; Umar and Saeed, 2018).

According to the 2021 IPCC report, heatwaves are increasing on all continents including South Asia. In the 2022 summer season, India’s total number of days with heat waves exceeded 200; a five-fold increase compared to 2021 (Mishra, 2022).

Across Southeast Asia, heatwaves are occurring more frequently and intensely, and longer.

In April through May 2016, several regions across Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines broke their all-time air temperature records during one of Southeast Asia’s worst heat waves on record (Thirumalai et al., 2017).

Reaching up to 45°C, some of the world’s largest rice producing nations, such as Thailand and Vietnam, experienced decreases in yields (Suwanmontri, Kamoshita and Fukai, 2020; Minh, 2016).

Over 150 people died and hundreds of millions of people were affected. On average and across all sectors, Thailand and Cambodia are suffering from the region’s highest heat-related losses of working hours, reaching 7.53 and 5.34% respectively (ILO, 2019).

By 2045, Southeast Asia is estimated to bear the greatest loss in labour productivity across the world, totaling at a 16% decrease as a result of heat stress (Verisk Maplecroft, 2017).

Southeast Asia experiences recurring droughts and it is estimated that 15-25% of the population resides in these drought hotspots (Alisjahbana and Hoi, 2020).

In 2019-2020, the Mekong Delta endured a prolonged drought, leading to damage of over 33.000 hectares of rice fields and water insecurity of roughly 95.600 households, severely impacting the roughly 65 million residents along the Mekong River whose livelihoods rely on which (Hunt, 2022).

More than 20 million of the affected people are located in Vietnam, which led five Vietnamese provinces to declare a State of Emergency (Ngoc Chau, 2020).

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ARCTIC RISK INDICATORS

The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.

Greenland rate of ice loss
13 million l/s
on average
13 million tonnes/s
on average
Arctic Sea Ice Extent
485,500 km²
below 1981-2010 average on 12-Apr-2024
187,451 mi²
below 1981-2010 average on 12-Apr-2024
Arctic Amplification
4 times
faster than global average
Arctic 66N+ Wildfire emissions
0.00 megatonnes CO₂e
CO₂e emissions in 2024 so far
Arctic Air Quality (PM2.5)
3.69 microgram per cubic meter
on 13-Apr-2024
Global mean Sea Level
3.4mm/year
since 1993