About 12 million people in 23 East Asian cities are at risk from rising sea levels, severe storms, and more intense drought caused by climate change that could jeopardise 864 billion USD in assets, a new report announced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on October 17 warned.

The Manila-based financial institution said in its report entitled “Economics of Climate Change in East Asia” that the aggregate cost to protect the most vulnerable sectors - infrastructure, coastal protection, and agriculture - would be less than 0.3% of East Asia ’s gross domestic product every year between 2010 and 2050.

According to the report, rising sea levels could cause China to lose an estimated 102 square kilometers of land mass per year between 2010 and 2050. Japan , meanwhile, will lose more than a quarter of its coastal wetlands by 2050. In the same time period, the Republic of Korea could lose up to a fifth of its coastal areas.

“This report shows that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of climate change adaptation if countries act now,” said Ayumi Konishi, Director General of ADB’s East Asia Department, adding that “climate change not only brings challenges to East Asia, but also opportunities for stronger regional cooperation.”

ADB said East Asia is critically important to global mitigation efforts since the region – consisting of about one-quarter of the global population – is responsible for about one-third of the world’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

The report was carried out by team members from more than 10 leading universities and think tanks in Asia, North America, and Europe.-VNA