Melting roads are a common occurrence in India’s northern region during heatwaves, highlighting the risk to human-made structures such as roads, bridges, houses, and workspaces. In response to this risk, Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI) conducted a first-of-its-kind study to measure and quantify the scale of physical destruction that extreme weather and climate change could cause to the ‘built environment’ worldwide by 2050.
The study’s projections are based on models of infrastructure destruction due to flooding, forest fires, heatwaves, and sea-level rise. Of the 2,600 states and provinces covered by the study, Asia has the highest number of provinces at risk, with about 114 provinces in the top 200 at-risk regions worldwide. The United States, China, and India combined represent 80 percent of the provinces within the top 50 at-risk states and provinces globally.
As per the study, out of the 2,600 states and provinces that it covered, Asia has the highest number of provinces at risk of this disaster, with about 114 of its provinces in the top 200 from all over the world. China, India, and the USA combined together make up for 80 per cent of the provinces within the top 50 most at-risk states and provinces in the world.
Within Asia, China is at risk of facing much bigger losses, followed immediately by India. India has nine states within that list of top 50 at-risk regions, which are Bihar (22nd spot), Uttar Pradesh (25), Assam (28), Rajasthan (32), Tamil Nadu (36), Maharashtra (38), Gujarat (48), Punjab (50) and Kerala (52). The built environment of Assam in particular, when compared to 1990, faces an increased risk of about 330 percent by 2050.
Internationally important economic hubs in Asia like Hồ Chí Minh City, Mumbai, Jakarta, Beijing, and Taiwan are also among the top 100 most at-risk regions. Out of these 100, there is also the Sindh province of Pakistan, which only recently faced devastating floods in 2022, damaging more than 900,000 houses.
Although fewer in number, provinces outside of Asia also face similar risks. The USA has economically important states like California, Texas, and Florida among the at-risk provinces, whereas Europe has key cities like London, Milan, Munich, and Venice facing certain risks.
This asymmetric distribution of destruction is due to the heavy concentration of manufacturing hubs in Asia, specifically China, which adds to the already vulnerable landscapes of the region. What remains to be seen is if investments in these ecologically sensitive regions would see any reduction or not.