CHIANG RAI – Future economic impacts of climate change in the Lower Mekong River Basin, are likely to be wide-ranging and could top US$34 billion annually, according to a report recently released by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The biggest concerns as mentioned in the report are potentially sharp reductions in the yield of crops, fish and non-timber forest products critical for livelihoods, damage to infrastructure associated with floods and sea level rises, and an increase in the incidence and severity of heat-related illnesses for workers.
The report “Climate Change in the Lower Mekong River Basin: An Analysis of Economic Values at Risk” estimates that, based on current values, impacts from climate change could cost Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam at least US$16 billion per year in damage to natural resource assets and infrastructure services, and an additional US$18 billion annually in potential infrastructure damage or loss from flooding and other extreme weather events.
This amount shows the profound risk that climate change represents and points to a need to align national adaptation strategies to reduce this risk where possible.
Authored by the Washington, DC-based think tank World Resources Institute (WRI) for the USAID Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (USAID Mekong ARCC) project, the report is based on a 2013 USAID analysis of climate change impacts in the Lower Mekong Basin that forecasts more extreme temperatures, rainfalls, weather events and sea level rises for the region by 2050.