Jan-Feb 2018 | Bangkok

City Profile / Jan - Feb 2018

Jan-Feb 2018 | Bangkok

by Dr Ann Deslandes

Long-standing concerns about the effects of climate change on the city of Bangkok were dramatically increased when the city flooded in 2011. Over 740 people were killed and it was many months before the city was functioning again. The damage to the Thai capital was estimated at over USD9 billion. 

There was no debate about whether the flooding was related to climate change. “In the context of climate change, the substantially increased pre-monsoon rainfall in the Chao Phraya River (Thailand’s major river) basin after 1980 and the continual sea level rise in the river outlet both played a role,” according to climate researcher Parichart Promchote, writing in the journal of the American Meteorological Society. Both increased rainfall and rising sea levels are known effects of global warming.

“Projections for climate change impacts in Bangkok point primarily to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events,” according to expert researchers Dr Sangram Shrestha and Dr Shobhakar Dhakal in their contribution to an edited collection of analyses from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting held in 2013. Within this, “Flooding is a particular concern. By 2070, Bangkok is expected to be ranked seventh among the world’s cities in terms of population exposed to coastal flooding (over 5 million people) and 10th in terms of the assets exposed (around USD1,117 billion).”

Flooding is not the only effect of climate change that the city must continue to mitigate. Bangkok is also sinking; a study by the National Reform Council of Thailand in 2015 predicted that the city, currently sitting below sea level, could be completely submerged before 2030.

As the world grows hotter and wetter, coastal, low-lying, monsoonal Bangkok will be a bellwether for the mitigation of climate change in major global cities, making Green architecture and design a hot-button issue in debates about the capital’s future. The city government has instituted a number of building codes and population-level strategies aimed at creating a low-carbon, resilient built environment to face the ongoing impacts of climate change, whilst one of Bangkok’s leading architects believes a more dramatic reboot of the city is in order. 

Direct and in direct impacts of climate change

Mitigating climate change in Bangkok: Responding to indirect and direct impacts


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