How China’s sponge cities are preparing for sea-level rise

By Robert Muggah

Published on World Economic Forum

All coastal cities are facing sea-level rise, but some will be hit harder than others. Asian cities are in for a particularly rough ride. Part of the reason for that is that the populations of coastal cities are bulging: about four out of every five people impacted by sea-level rise by the middle of this century will live in East or South-East Asia.

Surging waters will lead to spiking food prices, growing hunger and social unrest. The conservative scientific consensus is that a 1.5°C increase in global temperature will see global sea levels rise between 1.7 and 3.2 feet by 2100. Even if governments, businesses and citizens somehow manage to keep global temperatures from rising to 2°C, by 2050 at least 570 cities and some 800 million people will be exposed to rising seas and storm surges.

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