The Asia-Pacific region is at the forefront of the impacts of climate change and is uniquely positioned in global efforts to manage climate change. Higher temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather events linked to climate change are having a major impact on the region, harming its economies, natural and physical assets, and compounding developmental challenges, including poverty, food and energy security and health. Without climate-oriented development, climate change could force more than 100 million people from the region into extreme poverty by 2030, wiping out the gains in poverty reduction achieved over the last decades. At the same time, the region accounts for 53 per cent of global emissions and the high-growth path on which many of the region’s economies themselves on, means this contribution will grow without fundamental policy interventions.
Newest estimates for the Asia-Pacific region show that growth will be significantly impacted by climate change. Without climate action, GDP in the region could decrease by as much as 3.3 per cent by 2050 and 10 per cent by 2100, relative to the base case. The economic costs associated with disasters across the region are also increasing. Damage to property, crops and livestock from disasters increased from US$52bn annually to over US$523bn between 1970 and 2015. The costs of attaining a 2°C scenario for the region are estimated at approximately 0.1 per cent of GDP annually or 4 per cent by 2050, relative to business as usual. The co-benefits of climate action offset many of the costs of emissions reduction and emerging advanced technologies offer future prospects of lower abatement costs.
The Asia-Pacific has the capacity to respond with progressive policies, incentives and regulations to rewire our economies for low-carbon growth. Regional cooperation is a key tool to link global, national and sub-national climate actions. ESCAP has the capabilities to support its member States to develop these policy frameworks through a range of regional cooperation efforts. Its intergovernmental platform, norm setting and multi-sectoral approach can help provide support for its countries as they build low carbon and resilient economies, ensuring continued success in a carbon-constrained world.
The ESCAP resolution on climate change response in the Asia-Pacific for the 72nd Commission Session (E/ESCAP/RES/72/8) requested the Executive Secretary to encourage and collaborate with relevant United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, regional and subregional organizations as well as non-governmental organizations in line with the existing mandates and resources of the Commission, to promote capacity-building of member States, in particular least developed countries and small island developing States, regarding climate change and climate resilience in the areas in which the Commission has existing capacity and expertise, including climate-related disaster risk reduction, through policy dialogues and the sharing of experiences and information, where appropriate.