Bangkok : As Bangkok prepares to host climate-change talks, the sprawling city of more than 10 million is itself under siege from the environment, with dire forecasts warning it could be partially submerged in just over a decade.
A preparatory meeting will begin on Tuesday in Thailand’s capital for the next UN climate conference, a crunch summit in Poland at the end of 2018 to set rules on reducing greenhouse emissions and providing aid to vulnerable countries.
As temperatures rise, abnormal weather patterns — like more powerful cyclones, erratic rainfall, and intense droughts and floods — are predicted to worsen over time, adding pressure on governments tasked with bringing the 2015 Paris climate treaty to life. Bangkok, built on once-marshy land about 1.5 metres above sea level, is projected to be one of the world’s hardest hit urban areas, alongside fellow Southeast Asian behemoths Jakarta and Manila.
“Nearly 40%” of Bangkok will be inundated by as early as 2030 due to extreme rainfall and changes in weather patterns, said a World Bank report.
Currently, the capital “is sinking one to two centimetres a year and there is a risk of massive flooding in the near future,” said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace. Seas in the nearby Gulf of Thailand are rising by four millimetres a year, above the global average.
The city “is already largely under sea level,” said Buakamsri. In 2011, when the monsoon season brought the worst floods in decades, a fifth of the city was under water.
The business district was spared thanks to hastily constructed dikes.