In 2015, the Southeast Asia region experienced unusually severe bouts of El Nino that caused widespread destructive droughts. In the Global Climate Risk Index constructed by NGO Germanwatch which studied the costs incurred by weather events since 1998, several Southeast Asian countries ranked high among 128 countries that were indexed. Worse, many Southeast Asian countries are finding themselves underwater—and rising temperatures and other climate change impacts are increasingly to blame.
through the lens of SAP Analytics Cloud we aim to understand the trends, inch closer to fully understanding what SEA is currently facing against and what we can do to curb the impact.
Here’s what we found out:
The table reveals that the occurrences of floods and storms in the region have been steadily increasing since 1955.
THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Alongside this alarming trend, is the fatal impact on human lives and properties across
Similarly, data shows that this trend will keep its pace, if not intensify, in the future.
As extreme weather patterns intensity, low-lying cities, especially those surrounded by bodies of water, find themselves in a vulnerable position: a growing number of SEA communities will be submerged underwater in a couple of decades.
SEA LEVELS ARE RISING
It doesn’t help that the majority of Southeast Asian countries are island nations, on top of other factors such as water extraction and the growing weight of the urban sprawl. The Global Risks Report 2019 published by the World Economic Forum even suggests that some cities are sinking faster than sea levels are rising, which makes sense as the sea level rise amplifies the impact of storm surges.
NASA’s Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index traces the state of global temperatures since 1880. The graph shows surface temperatures relative to the average temperatures from 1951
to 1980, revealing that there has been a consistent one-degree rise.
GLOBAL LAND-OCEAN TEMPERATURE INDEX (1810 – 2018)
WORLD CO2 EMISSIONS (KT)
We then looked at the CO2 emissions across the region and it’s no surprise to see that they, too, has grown steadily over the years.
We also wanted to look just how much the amount of CO2 emissions affect global temperatures. Naturally, since CO2 is a greenhouse heat-trapping gas, its high concentration in the atmosphere also contributed to the rise in global temperatures.
This situation is apparently more pressing in SEA despite it being the seventh-largest economy in the world: the region emits 5.5 times more CO2 per capita than the rest of the world. It is also worth noting that while the level of greenhouse gasses that are being produced from fossil fuel has dropped by 10% globally since 1960, SEA, on the other hand, increased by 8% due to factors like deforestation, large-scale mining, and unbalanced urbanization.
Marrying all these data, all signs point out that the rising global temperature, CO2 emissions, and flood occurrence as a chain-reaction relationship.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a global warning
that we only have an 11-year window to act on climate change before the dawn of
irreparable damage on a global scale.
Fortunately, Southeast Asian leaders are now heeding the call and have already taken actions to help reverse the magnitude of the threat—one of which is reducing the dependence on energy resources that produce COs. Vietnam’s answer to this is hydropower.
BREAKDOWN OF ENERGY RESOURCES
Globally, hydropower is responsible for reducing annual emissions by 2.8 billion tons despite only trailing traditional biofuels as the largest source of renewables.
Vietnam’s high utilization of hydropower led to an increase in the country’s power supply for about 99 per cent of its population while avoiding about a million tons of carbon per annum.
This reliance on the renewable energy source of the Vietnamese government has even propelled the Asia Pacific region to be the top consumer of hydropower globally.
To further bolster this climate resilience initiative, ASEAN leaders also jointly approved a plan to target a 23-per cent share of renewables in the region’s energy utilization by 2025—doubling the 10 per cent share in 2015. The conversation surrounding deforestation has also permeated many of the region’s national and regional policy agendas.
We still have a long way to go in terms of curbing the devastating effects of climate change.
But as long as we track and analyse important climate-related data, continue to lead and implement policy changes, and intensify the calls for environmental consciousness on a societal level, we may actually have a future where we won’t need boats to get to Point A to Point B.