Mongolia Must Spend Up to $560 Million a Year to Climate-proof Infrastructure

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ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA – Mongolia needs to spend up to $560 million per year between 2010 and 2050 to ensure its infrastructure can withstand severe weather conditions, a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says.

Economics of Climate Change in East Asia projects that severe weather related to climate change will intensify in the region, with once-in-20-years flooding predicted to occur as frequently as every four years by 2050. When combined with rising sea levels, this is expected to cause massive swaths of land to disappear, forcing millions to migrate, and wreaking havoc on infrastructure and agriculture.

Mongolia’s agricultural sector, which employs 33% of the total 2.8 million population and accounts for 15% of the economy, is the country’s most vulnerable sector.

“If climate change causes more variable weather, the frequency of dzuds (extreme cold and heavy snow) may increase even if the average temperature goes up. Hotter weather and greater seasonal rainfall could exacerbate the degradation of pasture land, hurting farmers across Mongolia,” said Jörn Brömmelhörster, Principal Economist in ADB’s East Asia Department and one of the main authors of the report.

Droughts, in combination with the dzud, have already led to major losses of livestock. In 2010, almost 30% of the country’s livestock died as a consequence of the heavy snows, affecting more than 200,000 households.

In East Asia, Mongolia is the country where the climate change scenarios – and the costs of adapting to it – are the most varied. Under the worst-case scenario, Mongolia would need to spend 8.5% of its 2011-2050 infrastructure investment and maintenance costs to ensure its infrastructure can cope with climate change.

Without mitigation efforts, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase dramatically in the region. If no efforts are made to reduce them, emissions in Mongolia are projected to increase by 90% in 2030 compared with 2008. This business-as-usual scenario envisages Mongolia’s air temperature to increase 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2090,  the highest in the region.

The report examines how the People’s Republic of China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Mongolia can respond to the challenges of climate change through a combination of adaptation and mitigation. It gathers analysis from experts from 10 leading universities and think tanks in Asia, North America, and Europe, who drew on the best available databanks and climate change models.