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Tradeoffs between climate mitigation and adaptation: dams, sand, and substitutes

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Forbes or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Policymakers face a dilemma in the Mekong River region, where the construction of nearly 170 large hydropower dams poses a significant tradeoff between climate mitigation and adaptation efforts
• While hydropower offers low-carbon electricity, it threatens the Mekong Delta's climate resilience by blocking sediment flow crucial for its sustainability

🔭 The context: The Mekong Delta, vital for Vietnam's agriculture and global food security, is at risk from coastal erosion, land subsidence, and rising sea levels exacerbated by sediment loss due to dam construction
• This sediment is essential for counterbalancing natural and human-made erosive forces

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The potential underwater submersion of over 90% of the Mekong Delta by 2100 highlights the urgent need for strategies that balance climate mitigation with adaptation, ensuring the survival of this critical region for both regional economies and global food security

⏭️ What's next: Alternative energy sources like wind and solar, now cheaper and more abundant, offer the possibility to meet the region's low-carbon electricity needs without further compromising the delta's resilience, suggesting a path forward that avoids the detrimental impacts of dam construction on sediment flow

📈 One stat: Prior to dam construction and river sand mining, the Mekong delivered between 140 and 160 million metric tons of sediment to its delta each year, a figure now drastically reduced by reservoir trapping

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