Climate Change Realities: Perspectives from the Asia Pacific

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When: Oct 2 2014 - 4:30pm until Oct 2 2014 - 5:45pm
Where: 1819 L St, NW, Washington, DC. Sixth Floor Conference Room
What:

Climate Change Realities: Perspectives from the Asia Pacific

An Asia Pacific Seminar featuring:

Mr. Prodyut Bora
National Executive Member, Bharatiya Janata Party; Delhi, India

Mr. Abhishek Shah
Constituent Assembly Member, Legislative Parliament, Madheshi People’s Rights Forum; Patan, Kathmandu, Nepal

Mr. Mark Stege
Council Member, Maloelap Atoll Council; Marshall Islands

Mr. Pan Tao
Founder, Institute for Sustainable Environment and Energy (ISEE); Shanghai, China


From left to right the panelists are Mr. Pan Tao, Founder, Institute for Sustainable Environment and Energy (ISEE); Shanghai, China; Mr. Prodyut Bora, National Executive Member, Bharatiya Janata Party; Delhi, India; Mr. Abhishek Shah, Constituent Assembly Member, Legislative Parliament, Madheshi People’s Rights Forum; Patan, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Mr. Mark Stege, Council Member, Maloelap Atoll Council; Marshall Islands. Dr. Victoria Keener, Research Fellow, East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai'i;Lead Principal Researcher in the Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) moderated the discussion.

In a special panel discussion, participants in the East-West Center’s New Generation Seminar Program, shared the realities of climate change in the Asia Pacific. These young leaders discussed the politics and public perception of the issue in their home countries, as well as the challenges of addressing a changing climate given competing priorities and budget constraints. They also shared regional perspectives on US leadership on climate change.

Mr. Pan Tao discussed the serious threats that China faces as a result of climate change.

Mr. Pan Tao, the founder of the Institute for Sustainable Environment and Energy in Shanghai, China, began the discussion by outlining three realities of climate change as it pertained to China. Despite the upcoming release of a climate adaptation paper in November, Mr. Tao emphasized the unsustainability of China’s current growth since it has so far occurred at the expense of protecting the environment. Building on this theme, Mr. Tao went on to describe some of the serious threats that China is facing as a result of climate change including the salinization of freshwater resources and the melting of glaciers in the Tibetan plateau which could lead to a “water war” among China and its neighbors. Fortunately, it seemed to Mr. Tao that the Chinese government was beginning to act to try and mitigate the effects of climate change. Last year, the government spent roughly $10 billion on renewable energy initiatives, nearly 5 times the amount the US government had spent on similar projects.

Mr. Prodyut Bora highlighted the problems his home state of Assam, India faces as a result of climate change, including the influx of refugees from Bangladesh.

When describing how his home state of Assam, India sees climate change Mr. Prodyut Bora, a National Executive Member of the Bharatuya Janata Party, underscored that climate change is not seen as a global issue but as a political one. Located in the north of India, Assam borders Bangladesh. Out of the 3 million illegal Bangladeshi refugees in India, 2 million of them live in Assam. This has led to violent riots over land and along religious lines. With sea levels expected to rise, it is predicted that over 1/5 of Bangladesh will be submerged underwater, leaving 30 million Bangladeshis with little choice but to settle in Assam. At the national level Mr. Bora has not seen any push for real change. He cited corruption as a major reason for this, stating that “everyone loves a good flood” since both the officials and those that were affected would in one way or another profit from the disaster. 

Mr. Abhiskek Shah described the link between climate change and the "brain drain" in his home country of Nepal.

According to Mr. Abhishek Shah, a constituent member of the Legislative Parliament in the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum in Kathmndu, Nepal, similar problems were also affecting his country. Not only is Nepal suffering from droughts, flash floods and avalanches, but it has to contend with having the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest polluters (China and India respectively) as neighbors. Poo infrastructure has led to the inability to curb epidemics and support the shrinking tourism, hydropower and agricultural industries which Nepal relies on for the bulk of its economy. This has led to a mass exodus of Nepalese youth to surrounding countries and the Gulf states to make what little money they can serving as cheap laborers.

Mr. Mark Stege spoke passionately about the need for the Marshall Islands to emerge as a leader in the fight against climate change.

While discussing the realities of climate change in his home archipelago of the Marshall Islands, Mr. Mark Stege, a council member of the Maloelap Atoll Council, spoke passionately about the need for leadership. Recently there has been a growing realization that climate change could spell the destruction of his fellow Islanders’ way of life and that has led to an outpouring of fear. Rather than give in to that fear, Mr. Stege insisted that the Marshall Islands had to be a leader in this fight. The inclusion of climate change in the Marshall Islands’ national development process and the reevaluating of budget constraints were both positive moves in that direction.

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 


Mr. Prodyut Bora is a National Executive Member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India. He was, until recently, the State General Secretary of BJP in Assam. Prior to this, he was the Founder-National Convenor of BJP’s Information Technology (IT) Cell.

Mr. Abhishek Shah was elected as the youngest constituent assembly (CA) member in Nepal, has been nominated once and elected twice as a constituent assembly member, and is also a party central committee member and political committee member of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF). He represents Madhes, or the flatlands of Nepal, on the southern plains close to the Indian border, which is the primary food source of Nepal and is greatly affected by climate change.

Mr. Mark Stege is an elected council member of the Maloelap Atoll Council in the Marshall Islands and has taken a leadership role in his country and the region in building resilience to climate change. The challenge he takes up in his research on “Atoll Habitability Thresholds and Climate Migration” as member of the Council is similar to other low-lying island leaders and societies which face the very real prospect of climate change displacement. He also maintains an informal blog about his experiences building resilience to climate in the Marshall Islands.

Mr. Pan Tao is the founder of a new China-based think-do-tank, the Institute for Sustainable Environment and Energy (ISEE), which is dedicated to disseminating best practices, using shared knowledge for promoting good environment and sustainable energy practice for policymakers. He served as the China Urban Program Director in the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) for the US-China Partnership for Climate Action (PCA), a public-private partnership supported by numerous Chinese and U.S. government agencies, and by top multinational corporations.


Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Batiuk
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