Fight That Sinking Feeling
by China Water Risk 19 August, 2019
Fight That Sinking Feeling: Just thinking about the probable and inevitable disasters brought on by climate change is depressing. Overwhelmed, powerless, scared, lost and exhausting are other words that come to mind. Denial offers brief respite but there’s no doubt that water and climate risks are here today and here to stay across Asia. Millions of people are and will be affected by floods and day zero water rationing. Asia’s vibrant capitals are also at risk from sea level rise; worse still they are sinking due to excessive groundwater use. It’s happening – get on top of 8 water-related threats faced across Asia now.
In Hong Kong, temperatures are rising; figuratively and literally. In June we had 4x more hot days than the monthly norm; by August, temperatures reached a record high of 37.1°C in Kowloon City. We’ve also had our first T8 Typhoon for the year. So where is the city on ensuring climate resilience to protect against more hot, sweaty, thirsty and wet days ahead? At the moment, this is the last thing on everyone’s mind and the ongoing public engagement on Hong Kong’s plans to decarbonize will likely fall by the wayside. These threats are real and ultimately, Hong Kong’s survival is down to its ability to adapt to a changing climate.
Over in India, climate challenges are acute. The country’s heavy dependence on groundwater for agriculture has put India’s food security at risk. Over-extraction of groundwater has also compromised India’s climate resilience, and uncertainty in rainfall adds to farmers’ woes. Hear about these interlinking risks from Dr. Aditi Mukherji, the coordinating lead author of the water chapter in the next IPCC report. Aditi also shares with us her thoughts on how India’s new Green Revolution in the west can provide relief to depleted aquifers.
Elsewhere, China and Europe are teaming up on groundwater to find smarter ways forward to tackle “that sinking feeling”; again figuratively and literally (subsidence). Collaborations on technology research and pilots were shared at the China Europe Water Platform’s 2019 Groundwater Policy Dialogue this summer. Get on top of shared tech plus how China is planning to use policy and pricing to control groundwater use in our key takeaways on policy, pricing and technology.
Whether ‘hidden’ in the form of groundwater or obvious in the case of storm surges, floods or droughts, we need to be smarter when it comes to adaptation to ensure water security. We must look beyond Asia for solutions. Dutch water experts are touting smart drinking water networks, which is like “adding a nervous system to the body of the infrastructure”, according to Dr. Karel van Laarhoven, Dr. Peter van Thienen, Ina Vertommen and Dr. Mirjam Blokker from the KWR Watercycle Research Institute. Meanwhile, in Australia, environmental flows are used to “water” the Murray-Darling Basin. Here, Megan McLeod from the Alliance of Water Stewardship expands on Renmark Irrigation Trust’s success.
So how do we keep “that sinking feeling” at bay when doom and gloom pervades? When faced with impending disaster, our natural reaction is either fight or flight. It is easy to run away from feeling overwhelmed, powerless, scared and lost, and pretend that climate change is not happening, but surely we should not flee but fight? We can start by facing up to the onslaught of probable and inevitable disasters ahead, because only then can we plan proper resilience and find solutions that work.
There is hope: awareness and action across Asia are rising. In the next month alone, we are presenting on water and climate risks at the ministerial conference on ASEAN-China Regional Cooperation on Energy Transition & Climate-resilience Development and Fortune’s first ever Global Sustainability Forum gathering the great and the good in Yunnan to discuss the Future of Food, Water, Energy & Cities. Also, investors come find us at the 26th CLSA Investors’ Forum in Hong Kong or the BNP Paribas’ Sustainable Future Forum in Singapore.
A name change from ‘climate change’ to ‘climate crisis’ may add urgency, but we don’t have the luxury to wait and see if this works … so, we fight on. We will publish two reports in the coming month to help “peel off the blinkers” and catalyse action – one on what China is doing to protect the Yangtze, the other on water threats to the Greater Bay Area (Hong Kong and Macao included). Warning: read only if feeling brave! Then join us on the long long road of adaption to stave off “that sinking feeling”.
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