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Report: Southeast Asia Particularly Vulnerable to Climate Change

The Asian Development Bank says Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Bank, whose goal is poverty alleviation, says more investment is needed to lessen the damage caused by rising temperatures.

In a study released in Bangkok , the Asia Development Bank says if global action on climate change is delayed, Southeast Asia will suffer more than many other regions.

"Climate change seriously threatens Southeast Asia's families, food supplies, and financial prosperity. It is one of the world's most vulnerable regions to climate change impacts," said
Ursula Shaefer-Preuss, a Vice President at the ADB. "The climate change for the region will have serious consequences, including the decline in rice and other agriculture production."

The Manila-based ADB says if left unchecked, the region's economies could contract by an estimated 6.7 percent by the end of the century.

The study says greenhouse gas emissions could raise temperatures in Southeast Asia several degrees Celsius. It says as glaciers melt, rising sea levels could threaten 80 percent of Southeast Asians who live within 100 kilometers of the coast.

Former Indonesian environment minister Emil Salim is the lead economist for the study.

"And, so it is very important that we look into this not only from the point of economic, but from the survival of the country point of view," said Salim. "We will lose 20 percent of our islands. Maybe also the same with Vietnam as well as Singapore and such."

The study focuses on Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Shaefer-Preuss says Southeast Asian nations need to invest now in measures to lessen the harmful effects of climate change. For example, the study recommends spending billions on building sea walls, flood control, and irrigation, as well as researching drought and heat resistant crops.

The ADB says financial and technology support is also needed from rich nations to help poorer countries like those in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia's greenhouse gas emissions are relatively low compared to the other parts of the world, and most are due to deforestation. The ADB study says the region needs to help reduce the effects of climate change by planting more trees and better protecting them.