More than 25.5 million people in Southeast Asia currently earn their money in the tourism industry and the trend is still rising. But the new climate report presented this summer by the Potsdam Institute for Climate analysis in cooperation with the World Bank paints a dark picture for the future of the region.
Since the 1960s, the temperature in Southeast Asia rose by an average of 0.27 to 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade. This value in itself seems to be small, but it still doubles the global heat increase per decade of about 0.13 degrees Celsius. By the year 2090, the world temperature could rise by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. The consequences for Southeast Asia and especially for Cambodia can already be predicted and will have serious impact on people, economy and tourism in the region.
Less fish, less rice, less tourists
With an increase in mean annual temperature by 1-2 degrees Celsius, the corals will die first, rendering the coasts defenseless against the roaring sea. By 2040, the sea level might be rising possibly by 30 cm. The sea water will invade far into the Mekong Delta and thus could reduce rice production by 2.6 million tons per year. This corresponds to a drop in production of 11 degrees Celsius compared with the rice harvest in 2011. With the death of the corals, the number of fish will decline. It is anticipated that current fishery quotas will drop.
On land, extreme summer temperatures are expected with up to 90 days per year that would turn generally hotter than normal. The heat will come together with a higher amount of rainfall during the monsoon season. Therefore, Cambodia could be affected by flooding in the future much more than today. Drought on the one side and heavy rains on the other could lead to crop failures on a large scale.
The climate change caused by a temperature rise of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius is predicted to have a huge impact on the economic and social development in Cambodia. With drops in fishery and tourism the region, will have to face an increasing number of unemployed people. Heat, constant flooding and the spread of diseases such as malaria could slow down the local development, making Cambodia one of the world's most vulnerable tourist destinations in the future.