Theme 3: Energy & climate change
Climate change is one of the most critical challenges facing us today. Climate change is perhaps one such major force that has the capacity to alter our economic, ecological and social systems with potentially drastic consequences. Some of the alterations brought about by climate change may cause unprecedented and irreversible damages to ecosystems and human systems. What is more worrisome is that all the effects of climate change are unpredictable when temporal and spatial dimensions are considered. Although some signs of changing climate, for example, erratic weather patterns such as extended dry periods, extreme variability in temperatures, more frequent and intense floods and droughts are increasingly becoming noticeable, climate science has not been able to give all the answers to why, how and where these impacts will be felt more. To minimise the adverse impacts of climate change, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is primarily needed in the industrialised countries through the cut down on reliance on fossil fuel-based energy systems. While mitigation through clean energy is one way to deal with climate change, adaptation is another important way to increase the capacity to deal with climate change, particularly of developing countries which are highly vulnerable to climate change and already short of capital and skills, are struggling to generate economic growth and to deliver essential services such as healthcare and education.
In the Mekong Region, climate change impacts could be severe given the vulnerability of landscapes, freshwater system and coastal areas in the region. Intense floods and droughts, coastal erosion, higher seas and heat waves are already affecting production of rice, fruits and coffee crops and fisheries on which millions of Mekong basin people depend on. In the coming decades these impacts could be more severe and unavoidable. In the future, the regular flow of Mekong River may change catastrophically because the Himalayan glaciers are melting at a very rapid rate and there might be alterations in forest types causing shift locations of plant and animal ranges. The overall impacts then could be felt on infrastructure development, for instance roads and hydropower, that are under rapid development in the Region. Given the already observed and anticipated impacts, it cannot be disagreed that Mekong region needs to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change while keeping focus on regional development prorities by co-shaping a form of regional economic integration that promotes equitable development.
Specific Research Topic:
Energy & climate change study in the Mekong countries should cover the following areas:
1. Large scale policy assessment
- Policy on hydropower plants: how it links to climate change (CC), flood control and its impacts on community livelihoods?
- What are the impacts of hydropower plants on CC and vice versa?
- Laos is the battery for the region: how we keep the battery lasts longer?
- REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation)
- How can we use information to communicate effectively to inform policy makers and local communities
- Capacity building to cope with CC: Information, Communication, climate change risk, energy
- Vulnerability assessment: how we combine local knowledge with scientific knowledge?
- What no regret adaptation options exists in Mekong countries that can be replicated and scale up in the region?
- Local low carbon economy: biogas, how to improve energy usage, innovative local models
- Participatory approaches to enhance the capacity on CC and energy related issue
- Water shortage in the future due to CC, how to save the water? What are the measures?
- VACB models (Garden, Fish pond, Livestock, Biogas)
- LEAP. How can we enhance effective management of water to deal with CC impacts
- IPM (Integrated Pest Management)