“The historic Paris Agreement of 2015 has acknowledged that the global climate crisis is arguably the greatest challenge
human civilization faces in the 21st century. In this context, the role of the Asia and Pacific region is characterized
by a double dichotomy that entails simultaneously high risks and significant opportunities. Proper analysis guided
by adequate information can result in investment and policy choices that will continue to promote sustainable economic
development and eradicate poverty in the region.
The first dichotomy relates to the region accounting for an increasing overall share of global emissions of greenhouse
gases (GHGs) harming not only the world but the region itself. At the same time however, countries of the region have
the unprecedented opportunity to break the GHG-intensive development path by rapidly modifying the historical
model of industrial development. The rapidly decreasing costs of wind and solar power generation clearly indicates that
consumption and production of the future could be driven by renewable energy sources, though the when and where of
this great transition remain uncertain.
The second dichotomy pertains to the already observed and anticipated future impacts of anthropogenic global warming.
On the one hand, the rapid economic and human development of the region renders societies less vulnerable to the familiar
vagaries of the environment—such as heat waves, heavy precipitation or tropical cyclones. In particular, the shift away from
agriculture as the core sector guaranteeing livelihoods and the associated economic diversification of the countries of the
region help to increase resilience to weather extremes such as those experienced historically. Simultaneously however,
the same developments have opened up new avenues of exposure and vulnerability. Coastal populations and assets are
highly at risk from projected rises in sea level and the intensification of extreme weather events. Urbanized populations
are exposed to heat stress hazards. National and increasingly integrated regional economic systems are vulnerable to
disruptions in supply chain networks. Populations are migrating away from areas where climate change impacts represent
an increasing threat.
These rapidly emerging new climate vulnerabilities in the Asia and Pacific region need to be addressed with a portfolio
of strategies involving capacity building, preparedness programs, urban and rural planning, national and social security
schemes, proactive migration and numerous others. Crucial preconditions for success are whole-systems and long-term
thinking and planning, based on the best available data, analysis, and modeling.”