Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Other reports in this collection Industry, Energy, and Transportation

In many cities in the developing countries of Asia, movement of the labor force from dispersed agricultural centers to concentrated industrial sectors has increased urbanization and expansion of the suburban area where industries are located. This situation has caused serious traffic, housing, and sanitary problems. Moreover, a substantial share of industrial growth in developing countries revolves around the transformation of raw materials into industrial products such as steel, paper, and chemicals. Production of industrial chemicals has been shifting from developed countries to developing countries of Asia in recent years. Not only are these processes resource-intensive, in addition, industries such as electricity generation, chemicals and petroleum refining, mining, paper production, and leather tanning tend to produce a disproportionately large amount of hazardous and toxic wastes and already have caused serious air and water pollution. Moreover, because of poor regulatory capacity, developing countries have become targets for dumping of toxic wastes such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by multinational companies.

In developing countries of Asia, an increase in paper consumption of more than 80% is expected to occur by 2010. However, a shortfall in the supply of all wood products and especially pulp and paper is likely in the 21st century as a result of declines in natural vegetation productivity. This trend will put immense pressure on unmanaged forests of Asia. Some countries in Asia have resorted to agroforestry and farm woodlots to meet their increasing demand for pulp and paper on a near-term basis. Over the long term, however, anticipated growth in demand for wood products of all types probably will necessitate changes in forest management practices such as greater reliance on industrial plantations. Heat stress to livestock herded in open areas would reduce animal weight gain, dairy and wool production, and feed conversion efficiency in arid and semi-arid Asia (IPCC, 1996). An increase in the frequency of drought and heavy rainfall could result in a decline in tea yield in Sri Lanka (IPCC, 1998). Climate change could have adverse impacts on agroindustries such as food, beverages, tobacco, natural fiber textiles, leather, wood, and rubber.

The manufacturing industry could be affected indirectly through the availability of water, energy supply, and transportation systems throughout Asia. Mining operations, which are required to produce raw materials such as coal (practiced intensively in China and India because of heavy demand), exposes sulfur- and iron-bearing rocks to weathering and erosion that would be aggravated by global warming. Mineral industries discharge large amounts of waste ore known as tailings. Manufacturing industries release effluent to the air and water during production processes. For instance, cement production and foundry operations release particulates; metal industries release SO2, CO2, HF, and organic solvents; and chemical plants release particulates, SO2, and various hydrocarbons. Food processing, pulp and paper industries, brewing, and tanning industries release effluents in the form of contaminated water and sediments. This degradation of the environment may be exacerbated by climate change.

Climate change will adversely affect hydroelectric energy generation in Asia, exacerbating already depleted water resources in several major rivers in Asia. Increased humidity and hence more cloudiness in a warmer atmosphere could inhibit direct solar radiation. Photovoltaic technology, which is used extensively in Indonesia and a few other south Asian countries for remote area electrification programs, could be jeopardized. Changes in wind patterns could affect existing windmill installations. Availability of biomass, particularly fuel wood, depends on forest area and the quantity of rainfall. In areas with excess rainfall, CO2 enrichment and higher temperatures could increase fuelwood production and supply. Geothermal resources also may be affected by changes in precipitation patterns. For instance, an increase in rainfall could increase recharge of groundwater for most geothermal fields (IPCC, 1996).

In general, no major impacts of climate change on the production and distribution facilities of fossil fuels are likely, other than policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions from burning of fossil fuels. However, offshore exploration, production, and distribution facilities of oil and natural gas would be influenced by sea-level rise and extreme weather events such as cyclonic storms and associated surges that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Most power plants and oil refineries in Asia also are located along the coastlines to facilitate transportation and easy access to cooling water supply. Construction of seawalls will be needed to protect these facilities against sea-level rise (Mimura et al., 1998).

As reported in IPCC (1996), energy demand for heating, cooling, and agriculture activities can be influenced by climate change. Global warming would increase energy demand for cooling in the tropical Asia region and reduce energy demand for heating in boreal Asia. A similar pattern could be observed in temperate Asia, either in summer or winter. For agricultural activities, more energy would be needed for irrigation pumping during warmer weather as the soil becomes drier.

Tourism and outdoor recreational activities are likely to be disrupted in pattern by climate change. Global warming is expected to shorten the skiing season in many areas and affect the feasibility of some ski facilities (IPCC, 1998). Summer recreational activities in coastal recreational areas may be affected with the inundation of beaches. In Malaysia, for example, unprotected resorts located near the coastline would be lost through erosion; others that are not affected by erosion or inundation will cease to operate because of the loss of beaches (Teh, 1997). The increased frequency of forest fires because of drier conditions in Indonesia during the 1997 El Niño resulted in haze that affected the tourism industries of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia (Schweithelm et al., 1999). Some wildlife reservation areas that are famous as tourist spots may lose their attraction because of the disappearance of flora and fauna in the changed ecosystems. For example, it has been suggested that the flowering dates of cherry blossoms in Japan and Korea could move 3-4 days earlier if air temperatures during March increase by 1°C (Seino et al., 1998). Extreme weather events in highland regions also would threaten rafting, mountain climbing, and other high-altitude tourism.

Transportation systems, including infrastructure and fuel, can be influenced directly and indirectly by climate change. A longer rainy season, melting of ice deposits, and sea-level rise could directly damage infrastructures such as roads, railways, runways, terminals, airports, and harbors, thereby disrupting transportation systems. Climate change would increase the inherent necessity for expansion of infrastructure and alter fuel consumption patterns. In Siberia, for instance, frozen rivers that currently are used as roads would require a shift to water transport or construction of permanent roads with shorter winters. As reported in IPCC (1996), similar impacts could be experienced from permafrost melting.

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