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Scientists Call for Greater Regional Cooperation to Combat Climate Change

  • Ron Corben

Scientists and officials from 10 countries have been meeting to assess the risk of extreme weather and to find ways to reduce the damage it can cause

Climate scientists say regional governments need to include disaster management in their policies for coping with climate change. Governments are asking the scientific community to better advise them on reducing disaster risks.

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are drawing together scientists in Asia to both assess the risk of extreme weather and to find ways to reduce the damage it can cause.

Scientists and officials from 10 countries have been meeting this week in Bangkok, as part of the lead up to a special report on managing extreme weather events. As the global climate warms, it is expected to contribute to weather disasters, such as floods, stronger tropical storms and severe droughts.

Anand Patwardhan, from the Indian Institute of Technology, and one of the authors of the report says it is essential for policy makers to link climate change and disaster management planning.

"It has become very clear in the IPCC that unless we are able to build these linkages, unless we are able to mainstream or integrate climate change concerns into ongoing disaster risk reduction, disaster management practices that adaptation agenda will not be advanced," Anand said.

Anand says governments now understand the risk of a warming climate. Most climate scientists think emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are contributing to climate change.

"If one looks at what governments are expecting from the IPCC, they're telling us that you have made the case for action as scientists, now tell us what we should do and how we should do it whether it is in regard to mitigation or is it in regard to adaption," Anand said.

But Anand says this has proven a challenge for the scientific community because it must draw in people able to implement policies that go beyond science - such as finance, engineering and community structures.

Some governments, such as Vietnam, now encourage different ministries to cooperate on the different problems caused by rising sea levels. But scientists at the meeting this week say other Asian countries lag far behind.

The IPCC has warned that several cities across Asia, including Dhaka, Bangkok and Manila, are at risk to rising sea levels and severe storms. In Bangkok, for instance, there are warnings that up to one-million people could be affected by serious flooding by 2050 unless steps are taken to reduce the problem.

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