Monday, March 31, 2014

Water-energy nexus reaches crisis level in Asia

Parameswaran Ponnudurai in Eurasia Review:  A coal-linked project in China’s dry Inner Mongolia region has caused a local water table to plunge and a local lake to shrink. In neighboring India, a thermal power plant has been forced to shut down because of severe water shortages.

In Southeast Asia, impoverished Laos risks destroying the spawning grounds of migratory fish species that feed millions of people along the key Mekong River as it pushes ahead with the controversial Xayaburi dam project aimed at selling electricity to power-hungry Thailand. Wealthy Singapore, meanwhile, is consuming large amounts of of energy to overcome its water scarcity challenge even as the island nation’s progress toward water self-sufficiency is considered exemplary.

Decisions made in Asia for water use and management and for energy production are having major impacts on each other and serious repercussions for the region, according to studies highlighted on World Water Day last week. The nexus between water and energy is quite evident in the region largely because of poor and uneven access, and the cross use of the two resources for exploitation, officials say.

“Some of the statistics are quite startling,” Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said in a speech last week when commemorating a World Water Day event in Bangkok.

He said that while 4.3 billion people or about 60 percent the global population live in Asia, people in the region only have access to 38 percent of the world’s fresh water. As a result, Asia has the lowest regional per capita water availability in the world. In parallel, Akhtar said, Asia’s energy consumption also remains lower than the global average, but is expected to rise sharply in the next three decades, to drive the required pace of regional economic growth....

Inner Mongolian Desert, shot by Fir0002, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license 

No comments: