Sri Lanka’s high temperatures, unique and complex hydrological regime, and exposure to extreme climate events make it highly vulnerable to climate change.
In 2012, the Ministry of Environment submitted its Second National Communication to the UNFCCC (NC2), which highlights key vulnerabilities in the agriculture and water resources sectors, as well as significant risks to human health and in coastal zones.These key climate-related risks were again emphasized in Sri Lanka’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted after it signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. Sri Lanka’s NDC outlines the country’s commitment to addressing its vulnerability to climate change in line with its commitments to a low carbon pathway through sustainable development efforts
Find here some of the key messages of this report:
- Temperature rise in Sri Lanka is projected to be marginally lower than the global average. Under the highest emissions pathway (RCP8.5) temperatures are projected to rise by 2.9°C–3.5°C by the 2090s, over the 1986–2005 baseline. In contrast, warming of 0.8°C–1.2°C is projected over the same time horizon on the lowest emissions pathway (RCP2.6).
- Rises in minimum temperatures are projected to be faster than rises in average temperatures.
- Sri Lanka faces significant threat from extreme heat, with the number of days surpassing 35°C, potentially rising from a baseline of 20 days to more than 100 days by the 2090s, under emissions pathway RCP8.5.
- Extreme heat threatens human health and living standards, particularly for outdoor laborers in urban areas without adequate cooling systems; this will particularly impact communities in Sri Lanka’s northern region. There is also potential for adverse implications to Sri Lanka’s large tourism sector.
- Temperature rise is likely to put downward pressure on agricultural yields, including key staples such as rice. This may impact negatively on national and household food security.
- Without adaptative action, the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events may put lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure at risk through their link with riverine flooding, flash floods, and landslides.
- Increased incidence of flooding also brings the potential for enhanced disease transmission, an area demanding further research and disaster risk reduction efforts.
- Projected changes are expected to impact on Sri Lanka’s poorest and most marginalized communities most strongly, exacerbating poverty and inequality.