Economies across the globe could shrink dramatically by mid-century as fresh water grows scarce due to climate change, the World Bank said in a report released on Tuesday.
West Asian countries could be hardest hit, with its gross domestic product (GDP) growth slipping as much as 14% by 2050 unless measures are taken to reallocate water significantly, according to the report titled High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy. Such measures include efficiency efforts and investment in technologies such as desalination and water recycling, it said.
Global warming can cause extreme floods and droughts and can mean snowfall is replaced by rain, with higher evaporation rates, experts said. It also can reduce mountain snow pack that provides water, and the melting of inland glaciers can deplete the source of run-off. Also, a rise in sea level can lead to saltwater contaminating groundwater.
Fresh water shortages could take a toll on sectors from agriculture to energy, the Bank said.
Calling for the need to enhance efficiency of water use in India, the Bank said there is going to be increasing water deficits.
In India, property-related violence rises by about 4% when there is below-average rainfall, and communal riots become more frequent following episodes of floods, the Bank said. “According to one estimate, groundwater pumping accounts for no less than 4 to 6% of India’s total carbon emissions,” it added.
“If countries do not take action to better manage water resources, some regions with large populations could be living with long periods of negative economic growth,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.
About a quarter of the world’s population, or some 1.6-billion people, live in countries where water already is scarce.
Last month, 175 nations signed a deal to slow global warming and cut greenhouse gas emissions.