Asian flooding blamed on global warming

The increasing frequency and severity of flooding and other destructive weather in Asia has been blamed on global warming, by Asian politicians.

With the recent hurricane that hit the Indian coastal state of Orissa being described as the country’s worst natural disaster this century, and severe flooding in Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, Asian environment ministers have called on the developed world to mitigate the effects of global warming.

The seriousness of the Asian weather-related natural disasters even prompted an official mention as the latest Kyoto Protocol meeting came to an end. Jan Szyszko, the president of the fifth meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Kyoto Protocol, told delegates and observers that a sense of urgency surrounding climate change is palpable, referring specifically to recent Asian weather events.

Cambodia and Bangladesh environment ministers have both stated their belief that flooding is related to global warming and that it is the developed world that has created the climate change crisis and therefore they, and not developing countries, should reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In Vietnam, the central portion of the country has suffered from torrential rain over the last week and the death toll is already at least 300. Vietnam’s minister of agriculture and rural development Le Huy Ngo told Vietnam television that: “According to our initial estimates, hundreds of people have died and hundreds of thousands of homes are submerged. Air, rail, water and road transport has been suspended, causing huge problems for the rescue operation.”

An international Red Cross appeal has been issued in relation to the Orissa hurricane and an appeal concerning flooding in Vietnam is also expected.

Despite the outspoken statements on climate change by some Asian governments, there remains considerable uncertainty as to when the Kyoto Protocol will come into force. The US has refused to agree that 2002 is the target year for ratification and continues to seek permission to purchase emission reduction credits from abroad in order to fulfil its entire Kyoto commitment rather than take ‘domestic action’.

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