Climate change threatens Asia’s water and energy. – research

Climate change threatens Asia's water and energy. - research
Image: Reuters

Researchers said on Wednesday that climate-related disruptions to the vital Hindu Kush-Himalayan water system are jeopardizing the economic development and energy security of 16 Asian countries, and that coordinated action is required to protect regional water flows.

Climate change impacts such as glacial melt and extreme weather, according to the China Water Risk think tank, already pose “grave threats” to the 1.9 billion people and $4.3 trillion in annual GDP who live in the basins of the ten major rivers that flow from the Hindu Kush-Himalayan water towers.

The researchers warned of “escalating and compounding water risks, if we are unable to rein in emissions,” with continued construction of water-intensive energy infrastructure only exacerbating the situation.

Ten of the world’s most important rivers are the Ganges and Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh, the Yangtze and Yellow rivers in China, and the transboundary Mekong and Salween.

They support nearly 75% of hydropower and 44% of coal-fired power in 16 countries, including Afghanistan, Nepal, and Southeast Asia.

Climate change is expected to threaten 865 GW of power capacity along the 10 rivers, with the majority of that capacity reliant on water.

The researchers also noted that over 300 GW of power, enough to power Japan, is located in areas with “high” or “extremely high” water risks.

During last year’s record-breaking drought, hydroelectric output in China’s Yangtze river basin, which supplies water and electricity to roughly one-third of the country’s population, plummeted, disrupting international supply chains.

Since the drought, governments have approved dozens of new coal-fired power plants to prevent further interruptions in hydropower.

Coal-fired power plants, on the other hand, have high water requirements, and recent capacity increases in China and India may exacerbate existing water scarcity.

According to the researchers, as climate risks grow, countries are under increasing pressure to develop policies that ensure the “dovetailing” of energy and water security.

They argued that because energy decisions can affect water and a lack of water can strand power assets, water security should take precedence over energy security.

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Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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