A report issued by local think-tank Civic Exchange warns that policy makers and businesses in the Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) region must act now to prepare for the impacts of climate change, or risk significant losses in the future.
“Climate change risk has not been adequately addressed by the authorities or businesses in Hong Kong, Macao and the PRD,” said Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange. “This report is a wake-up call: the PRD is going to feel the effects of climate change; and we have to start planning for it now.”
Key industry sectors in the region are exposed to significant risk from climate change, according to the report. interruptions to power supply and transportation networks from floods and storms; higher insurance costs; the levying of taxes to pay for coastal defences; and lower water quality are some of the climate change-related factors that are highlighted as posing risks to business.
“The scientific evidence suggests that sea levels along the coastline here will rise by at least 30 cm by 2030,” said Alexandra Tracy, lead author of the report. “This may seem a small change, but, in conjunction with storm surge and inadequate coastal defences, it could lead to flooding and significant damage to infrastructure in the region. Higher temperatures and more intense typhoons as a result of climate change could also damage infrastructure, from transportation networks to power and water supply.” Weather-related damage resulting from climate change could have serious flow-on effects for businesses operating in the region. Much of the industry in the PRD is supply chain driven – low pricing and prompt delivery is vital to business competitiveness. Even temporary power supply problems or disruption in key transportation systems in the Delta could lower manufacturing output and jeopardise the region's valuable export business. "If buyers start to believe that companies in the PRD cannot reliably deliver, there is a risk that they relocate their supply chain business outside the region", Loh said. "This would also have a devastating impact
on the ports and airports in the region and on the logistics and services industries in Hong Kong, whose companies have invested heavily in the PRD".
“This is not just a local problem,” said Tracy. “Any slow-down in the economy of the PRD economic zone is likely to impact on China as a whole.” “This region urgently needs more in-depth research on how we can adapt to the unavoidable aspects of climate change, as well as how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Loh. “Other world cities such as London and New York have done a lot of work on these issues. We need to start thinking about these issues hard, and soon.”