KATHMANDU, Nepal–Climate change-driven events including melting glaciers pose a serious threat to Nepal’s economy, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report. An ADB report titled Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia has identified Nepali population as “extremely vulnerable, not only to the immediate threats of increasingly frequent glacial lake overflows, landslides, flash floods, and droughts, but also to longer-term climate change.”
The ADB says the climate changes can induce losses equivalent to almost 10% of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100.
According to the report, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka of South Asia will see an average economic loss of 1.8% of their collective GDP every year by 2050.
It will further rise to 8.8% in 2100, estimated the Bank.
“Without changes to current global behavior, Nepal would see economic losses equivalent to up to 2.2% of annual GDP by 2050, widening to 9.9% by the end of the century,” read the report.
The report also hinted that the damage could be limited to around 2.4% of GDP by 2100 if mitigation and adaptation measures are taken.
According to the report, Nepal’s agriculture sector will reap some short-term gains from warmer temperatures and melting snow and ice, boosting water supplies.
The report warned that melting glaciers pose a risk to both human settlements and hydropower systems as they form high-altitude lakes causing catastrophic flooding downstream. “In mountainous areas, landslides are likely to increase, threatening lives and infrastructure,” said the report.
Deteriorating and dwindling forests will result in habitat losses for some of the country’s rich flora and fauna, including snow leopards, according to ADB.