Floods, storms and heat projected to cost SE Asia $34 bln per year

23 February 2015

Falling crop yields, damage to infrastructure and heat-related illnesses brought on by climate change could cost the four Southeast Asian countries of the lower Mekong River basin $34 billion per year, researchers say.

Southeast Asia is one of the regions hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, such as floods, typhoons, droughts and saltwater intrusion – when seawater flows up rivers, threatening agriculture and infrastructure.

A report released on Monday found that climate change could cost Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam $16 billion per year in lost worker productivity, crop production and natural resource assets, plus $18 billion in infrastructure damage because of flooding, storms and extreme heat.

The report – by the Washington-based World Resources Institute think tank – drew findings from a 2013 USAID analysis that forecasts higher temperatures, more rainfall and sea level rise for the region by 2050.

Worker productivity is projected to suffer heavily, costing $8 billion per year in lost work days due to illnesses such as heat rash, fatigue and stroke, particularly among farmers and construction workers.

“There are tens of millions of open-air workers likely to experience greater levels of heat stress and heat-related illnesses when temperatures start rising above 40 degrees Celsius,” report author John Talberth said in a statement.

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