How climate change threatens Asia’s metropolises

Air pollution is increasing, water quality is decreasing. Climate change brings enormous risks with it. Asia’s metropolises are particularly hard hit, with Jakarta and Delhi right at the top of a risk list.

Bad air quality: The smog in the Indian capital New Delhi makes a clear view impossible.

Mhe rapidly increasing urbanization also increases the risks of environmental pollution and climate change for large cities. Asian metropolises are particularly affected, and more and more people are pouring into them looking for work and education. “Environmental risks due to falling air quality, natural hazards and the availability of water are multiplying due to climate change. Asia is at the top of almost 600 of the world’s largest cities, ”says Matt Moshiri, President of the UK consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, summarizing the results of a risk study conducted by his company.

There is no time for a romantic view of the situation: “Londoners may enjoy warmer days in the park and an Italian coffee house culture, but the reality for most cities is far-reaching productivity losses, is causing air conditioning prices to skyrocket and is taking a bitter toll Heat-related illnesses. “Ducking away is not possible:” Agriculture, the manufacturing industry and other outdoor activities are hit hardest, but real estate investors and government officials can no longer overlook the dangers lurking in just 30 years. “

Asia’s metropolises at the top of the risk list

Almost all of the cities most affected by environmental and climate change impacts are in Asia. The Indonesian capital Jakarta, where more than 10 million people live, tops the risk list. “Around the globe, 414 cities with more than 1.4 billion inhabitants are threatened by high or extreme risks, a consequence of poisoning, shrinking water supplies, extreme heat stress, natural disasters and vulnerability to climate change. The risks to citizens, real estate and the business world will only increase, ”warns Will Nichols, who leads Verisk Maplecroft’s climate research.

Image: Verisk Maplecroft

As a country, India is once again hardest hit: 13 of the 20 most threatened cities are on the subcontinent. The capital Delhi is in second place, the coastal city of Chennai, in which the German automotive industry is also investing, in third place. The economic metropolis of Mumbai ranks 29th. As early as 2019, the polluted air caused one in five deaths in India, which led to economic losses of 36 billion dollars. China and India are home to 286 of the world’s 336 million city dwellers at extreme risk of air pollution. “If you add the high-risk cities, their number rises to 642 million people.”

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Jakarta suffers from air pollution, natural disasters and floods. In 2019, President Joko Widodo admitted that the government was forced to move to East Kalimantan due to Jakarta’s environmental risks. So far, Indonesia is planning to become greenhouse gas neutral by 2070 – which practically all scientists consider to be far too late. Since traffic accounts for 46 percent of air pollution in Jakarta, the city administration is trying to restrict it and make the new subway more attractive.

Karachi and Manila will also feel the consequences of climate change massively. In this area, however, African cities such as Lagos and Kinshasa top the list. “African cities will look particularly bad because their continent is not only at the mercy of climate extremes, but is also least able to compensate for their consequences,” says Nichols.