• UN head urges Asian countries to end “addiction” to coal as new modelling shows three times more Asians could be subjected to flooding by 2050 as previously thought

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

UN Secretary General António Guterres has said that Asian countries should be on the “front line” of taking climate change action, and should therefore quit their “addiction” to firing coal. Mr Guterres was speaking after the release of new research that suggests that sea level rise will affect three times as many people in Asia as previously thought. The research, by US not-for-profit Climate Central, used a modified digital elevation model of coastal Asian areas to correct errors in the elevation model generated from the shuttle radar topography mission (an international collaboration led by the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and NASA). Those errors are more prominent in heavily vegetated areas, as satellites can mistake tree cover for ground. In total, 237 million people across China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand were found to be at risk of flooding by 2050 under a scenario of moderate reductions of emissions, and 340 million if emissions continue to be higher. By 2100 under high emissions scenarios, this number would rise to 630 million people. Such flooding would also affect a greater amount of infrastructure than previously thought, producing a greater effect on economic output. Mr Guterres has ample justification in saying that climate change is the “defining issue of our time”.