Pacific Ocean region to pay price of global warming
The Pacific region faces serious economic losses due to climate change and it is critical that nations causing the problem step in to help, the Asian Development Bank has said.
A new report by the bank, Economics of Climate Change in the Pacific, which was released in Sydney, showed losses would range between 2.9 per cent and 15.2 per cent of annual gross domestic product by 2100.
The Pacific contains some of the smallest nations on earth and there are growing fears that global warming and rising seas threaten their existence, with some of the atolls barely a metre above sea level.
The report assessed the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture, fisheries, tourism, coral reefs and human health, with the ADB's Pacific director-general Xianbin Yao warning of dire consequences.
According to the report, the most significant economic losses would be felt in Papua New Guinea, where climate change impacts could trigger a loss of up to 15.2 per cent of GDP by 2100.
East Timor's GDP is predicted to drop by up to 10 per cent, followed by Vanuatu (6.2 per cent), Solomon Islands (4.7 per cent), Fiji (4 per cent), and Samoa (3.8 per cent).
The report comes as loopholes emerged in last weekend's UN agreement on climate change that will allow China, India and other emerging economies to delay setting any targets to cut their emissions.
European Union member states now face a dilemma over whether to continue with plans to make ambitious pledges next year to cut emissions by 2030 without any guarantee that countries with far larger carbon footprints will follow.
China weakened the wording of the agreement during a final session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Warsaw. The meeting ended without setting a clear path towards the global deal on emissions scheduled to be signed in Paris in December 2015.
A suggestion by the US that each country should propose emissions targets for discussion by March 2015 was watered down by adding that only those nations "ready to do so" would observe the deadline. The word "commitments" was replaced with the weaker "contributions".
The changes were made to accommodate 130 developing nations, which argue countries that were early to industrialise have a "historical responsibility" for emissions. The developing nations are resisting setting their own binding targets, saying they must be allowed to continue expanding their economies.
The EU and the US say that the distinction made between developing and developed countries in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is increasingly irrelevant. At that time, developing countries accounted for only about a third of emissions. Now they are responsible for 60 per cent and their share is still growing, with China this year overtaking the EU in emissions per person.