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Bangladeshi villagers make their way to shelter in Cox’s Bazar on 21 May 2016, as Cyclone Roanu hits the coastal areas of the country. AFP file photo

Climate change to affect 134m Bangladeshis, warns WB

WT24 Desk

Nearly half of South Asia’s population, including more than three-quarters of Bangladesh’s population, is at risk of declining living standards due to rising temperature and erratic rainfall from climate change, says a new World Bank report, agencies report.

The report ‘South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards,’ was released in Dhaka on Wednesday, reports news agency UNB.

The report finds that in the last 60 years the region’s average temperatures have increased and will continue rising, which is affecting agriculture, health and productivity.

This could cost Bangladesh 6.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and lower the living standards of more than three-quarters of the country’s population by 2050, it said.

Bangladesh’s average annual temperatures are expected to rise by 1.0 degree Celsius to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2050 even if preventive measures are taken along the lines of those recommended by the Paris climate change agreement of 2015, the report warned.

If no measures are taken, then the country’s average temperatures are predicted to increase by 1.0 degree Celsius to 2.5 degree Celsius, the report reads.

“Around the world, and especially for Bangladesh, climate change is an acute threat to development and efforts to end poverty,” said Hartwig Schafer, the global lender’s vice-president for South Asia Region.

“In addition to the coastal zones, the warming weather will severely affect the country’s inland area in the next decades. To deal with climate change, the country needs to focus on creating jobs outside the agriculture sector and improve the capacity of its government institutions,” he added.

Hartwig said The World Bank is committed to helping Bangladesh become more resilient to climate change. By 2050, Chittagong Division will be most vulnerable to changing climate.

Seven out of the top 10 most-affected hotspot districts — where changes in average temperature and precipitation will have a negative effect on living standards — will be in the Chittagong Division, according to the report

The top two climate hotspots will likely be Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban, which may suffer from a more than 18 per cent decline in their living standards, followed by Chittagong, Rangamati, and Noakhali.

“These weather changes will result in lower per capita consumption levels that could further increase poverty and inequality in one of the poorest regions of the world, South Asia,” says Muthukumara Mani, report author and World Bank lead economist in the South Asia Region.

“Identifying hotspots will help policymakers in finding specific locations and household types where the resources are needed the most to address the rising risk to living standards.”

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