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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Expect more severe stormwater flooding in KL with climate change, study warns


Kuala Lumpur is expected to face a severe increase in the frequency of stormwater flooding by the year 2050 if nothing changes to curb climate change.

This is due to an increase in heavy rainfall, as a result of warmer conditions.

However, the increase in frequency could be halved in the best-case climate scenario, where emissions are stabilised.

This is according to the Water Safe Cities report, which looks at the impacts of riverine flooding in C40 cities by 2050.

C40 is a network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities collaborating on urgent action against climate change.

Besides stormwater flooding, Kuala Lumpur is also prone to riverine flooding.

In the worst-case scenario, the study found, the cost of riverine flooding in Kuala Lumpur is projected to go up by 124 percent by 2050.

If today riverine flooding in Kuala Lumpur costs US$80 (RM352.40) per capita per year, in 2050 under a scenario of business as usual, it will cost US$180 (RM792.90).

However, if emissions and the impact of climate change are stabilised, the cost will be lower at US$149 (RM656.34) per capita per year.

The number of Kuala Lumpur residents impacted will also grow by 48 percent.

Today, the study showed that 0.91 percent of the city's residents are exposed to riverine flooding.

If nothing changes to curb climate change, by 2050, 1.36 percent of residents will be exposed, it projected.

Medium risk of drought

Kuala Lumpur is one of several Southeast Asian and South Asian cities most exposed to severe flooding as a result of climate change, the study said.

It is also expected to have a medium risk of drought, but the exact impact cannot be quantified due to lack of data, C40 said.

It added that cities’ climate change will also impact populations inequitably, with cities in the Global South ten times more likely to be affected by flooding and drought than residents in the Global North.

This is because cities in the Global South have high population densities, exposing more people and putting more lives at risk, C40 said.

"C40’s research suggests that devastating river and coastal flooding will unleash enormous economic, health, and social consequences that will affect millions across the globe," it said.

On a global scale, river flooding is expected to cost C40 cities US$136 billion (RM599.08 billion) in GDP each year over the next three decades, it found.

More frequent and severe droughts will increase water losses in C40 cities by 26 percent and will cost US$111 billion (RM488.95 billion) in damages per year over the next three decades, it said.

“Sea level rise, flooding and drought are three of the most significant climate-related risks that cities face today,” said Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities.

“Cities have a wealth of tools and knowledge at their disposal to ensure that they are adequately preparing for the realities of the climate crisis, but effective action starts with an understanding of the scope and scale of the challenge." - Mkini

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