By Pongphon Sarnsamak
Countries in the Asia Pacific will require an investment of about US$40 billion (Bt1.226 trillion) annually till 2050 - a period of nearly four decades - to neutralise the impacts of climate change. And that is many times the amount of available funds, th
“In contrast, estimates for 2009-2010 indicated that only $4.4 billion was available for adaptation activities globally,” said Bindu Lohani, the ADB’s vice-president for knowledge management and sustainable development.
Lohani said it was likely that climate change would increase the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts and tropical storms – to which Asia and the Pacific are already exceptionally vulnerable. This would result in escalating costs of both disaster-risk management and post-disaster relief and reconstruction.
The ADB’s experience to date suggests that the additional costs of managing climate-related risks to infrastructure range from around 5-15 per cent of baseline investment costs of $48 billion; and in fact exceeded 20 per cent on several recent road transport projects.
“We see that billions would be required, to ‘climate proof’ ADB’s programmed investments alone,” he said.
Although developed countries had agreed to mobilise up to $100 billion a year by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation, this impressive figure was likely to be insufficient to match the region’s needs if countries in the Asia-Pacific want to go beyond adaptation toward increased resilience. And, as emphasised at Cancun and Durban, adaptation funds needed to be predictable and sustainable as well.
It was imperative that adaptation funds were used strategically. The most beneficial uses must be identified, and a framework of governance established that responds to the needs of the most vulnerable, who must be given a strong voice in defining their own needs and priorities. Such a framework must be country-led and country-owned, inclusive, transparent and accountable, Lohani said.
The Green Climate Fund promised to be truly responsive to the needs of those most deserving of support for critical adaptation tasks and resilience building.
“To make this happen, we must ensure that we get the money and the governance right. We must also ensure that the recipient countries possess the required capacity to manage, allocate, spend and monitor these resources. And we must ensure that the full scope of activities that build the resilience of the vulnerable will be eligible for grant finance through the fund,” he said.
The ADB called on Asian nations to accelerate efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Resources currently available to “climate proof” roads, sewers, bridges and pipelines were grossly inadequate. More was needed to improve data collection, early warning systems and other activities vital for resilient societies.
Thailand is seeking to borrow Bt350 billion to finance flood-management projects, expected to be revealed next month. It also transferred debts held by the Financial Institutions Development Fund from the Finance Ministry to the central bank, to boost its debt-service ratio. Meanwhile, a Bt300-billion soft loan programme is now ready, but it aims to help SMEs and individual flood victims, not to finance infrastructure investment.
In 2011, the ADB approved a record 59 projects supporting environmental sustainability, which amounted to about $7 billion in financing. In 2012, it is seeking to mobilise significant funds for climate adaptation to help close regional gaps in knowledge, capacity and finance.
Lohani is in Bangkok to attend the Second Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum. Joining the two-day event are several environmental agencies – the Adaptation Knowledge Platform, Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network, the ADB and the Stockholm Environment Institute.
The event was held after several countries in the Asia-Pacific experienced devastating natural disasters over the past year such as the huge flood in Thailand and the earthquake and massive tsunami in Japan.
About 800 people including government officials, policy makers, business leaders, economists and civil society reps from 50 countries around the world are here to try to boost adaptation to climate change and extreme weather.