Countries in the region must step up collaboration, in parallel with undertaking emissions cuts, adaptation measures, and finance initiatives, to reduce significant projected losses
MANILA, May 25, 2022 – Climate scientists from across Southeast Asia called for developing countries to boost collaboration and participation in regional and global initiatives to combat climate change more urgently, as the latest reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brought to light the dire implications of the climate crisis on critical sectors and economic development in the region.
“We can strengthen the participation of countries in the international arena through research input – by mobilizing developing countries’ leading experts, practitioners, and scientists to strengthen the regional climate science agenda to build a common understanding,” said Dr. Mahawan Karuniasa, chairman of the Indonesia Expert Network for Climate Change and Forestry (APIK Indonesia Network) and co-founding member of the regional group Asia Climate Experts (ACE), in a virtual forum last Monday, May 23.
“A regional perspective is the best position to learn from one another and redouble our efforts, and the time is now,” Karuniasa added.
The mitigation report under the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle stated that the entire world would encounter inevitable climate hazards in the next two decades once global warming breaches the 1.5-degree threshold. Once this level has been exceeded, IPCC asserted, severe impacts will ensue, some of which could be lethal and irreversible.
In Southeast Asia, a region that has been at the forefront of climate impacts for decades, scientists warn that the long-term viability of the economy is at risk, as climate impacts threaten critical sectors in the region – rice production, food security, energy, forestry, and marine ecosystems.
“The AR6 reports that hot extremes including heat waves have become more frequent and more intense in Southeast Asia since the 1950s. Heavy rainfall events that can lead to flooding have become more intense in the region,” said Dr. Faye Cruz, Regional Climate Systems Laboratory head of the Manila Observatory and IPCC AR6 Working Group 1 lead author.
“We can expect larger changes in climate, including more intense and more frequent climate extremes, with every additional warming in the future. To quote the IPCC, the climate we experience in the future depends on our decisions now,” she added.
The IPCC emphasized the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 to mitigate the worst climate impacts, which could include widespread death, destruction of biodiversity, and economic downfall.
As the forum coincides with the International Day of Biological Diversity, ICSC energy transition advisor Alberto Dalusung III pointed out that energy has a direct impact on biodiversity, with fossil fuels polluting the world’s resources and adversely affecting life on land and water.
“As renewable energy and grid modernization investments continue to increase in the region, Indonesia taking the lead in the energy transition provides a signal to policymakers in other Southeast Asian countries to make the shift,” said Dalusung.
Climate finance is also crucial in averting the climate crisis, especially for vulnerable nations. The call is not only to shift to renewable energy, but also to reallocate funds from fossil fuel-related investments to clean energy programs consistent with net-zero goals.
“Accelerated climate action in mitigating and adapting to impacts is critical to sustainable development. We need equity on adaptation and mitigation finance, considering investments for the co-benefits which are prominent in the IPCC discussions,” said Angelo Kairos Dela Cruz, deputy executive director of ICSC.
“Climate finance and governance go beyond political boundaries and timelines. It is best if the current and future political climate should take these policy recommendations, especially those from our scientists, as part of the regional and country priority agenda,” added Dela Cruz.
NOTE TO EDITOR
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The Asia Climate Experts (ACE) group is a network of scientists and groups working on climate science and the impacts of climate change on long-term development strategies in the region. These development strategies focus on food security, agriculture, peatland conservation, land-use, biodiversity, climatology, and capacity building. The group was formed in September 2019 at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week in Bangkok, Thailand. ACE is also a member of the UNFCCC’s Paris Committee on Capacity Building Network and is supported by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and Asia Comms Lab.
AC Dimatatac, ICSC: email@example.com, +63 917 149 5649, +63 998 546 9788
Nabiha Shahab, Asia Comms Lab: firstname.lastname@example.org, +62 813 1421 3432