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Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Lao People's Republic is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. As big as the State of Minnesota or Romania, it is also called the Kingdom of a Million Elephants. Its capital Vientiane is home to 700,000 people.


Laos remains to this day a rural country, with 80% of the population working in agriculture, predominantly rice fields along the Mekong river.


The river Mekong is the lifeline of the country, running from northwest to southeast for more than 1,000 km. Laos is also one of the wilder and more inaccessible countries of southeast Asia. Its high mountains are dominated by thick tropical forests. In a still inexplicable natural event, weird “naga fireballs” pop out of the river and disappear into the black of the night in a few seconds. 


Laos’ history is inextricably linked to that of its neighbours China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia -  frontiers are so hard to define in this zone that drug smuggler named it “the Golden Triangle”. 


Laos was one of the fighting grounds of the Vietnam war, where the conflict spilled over. Communist guerrillas in Laos allied with the Viet Cong and were heavily bombarded by the Americans and their allies. More than 20,000 Laotians died in this civil war fueled by ideological cold war dynamics.


Laos is still grappling with ethnic tensions, especially with regard to the Hmong ethnicity, which has been repeatedly oppressed for religious and racial reasons by the central government. With an economy still fueled for half by subsistence agriculture, Laos still has an opportunity to draw a sustainable path to development, with the help and investments from its richer neighbours, but also with a national development plan conscious of all these challenges. 


TOTAL POPULATION

6.6 million YEAR 2014

CO2 EMISSIONS

1,900 kt COUNTRY, YEAR 2014

14,272,100 kt East Asia and Pacific, YEAR 2014

“Make electricity available to 90% of households in rural areas by 2020.” 

PARIS AGREEMENT TARGET

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC | ALL PROJECTS

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CLIMATE SIGNIFICANCE

Laos has not made public any numbered target in terms of CO2 emissions. However, it has vouched to electrify its rural dark zones and increase its forest cover to 70% in the next 2 years, a 40% increase corresponding to a return to 1940’s levels.

In 1993, the Laotian government had declared a vast conservation plan, aiming to protect 21% of the country’s land for habitat conservation and preservation.

Forest, droughts and natural disasters are the main threats. As for many places in Monsoon country, tree protection is indispensable to avoid flash floods, rapid soil erosion and destructive landslides. Illegal logging is a major problem. The Vietnamese national army, alongside other mafias, has been known to cut down and steal away precious wood resources from Laos.

Despite lacking the rural infrastructure to link up its craggy landscape, Laos’ electricity grid runs on renewable resources for almost 100% of its output. Lao PDR also aims at using unexploited hydropower resources to export clean electricity to its neighbours and level the field of play in the regional game of influence. Laos is planning to add 54 new hydropower plants to the 46 already operating in 2017. Today, electricity accounts for 30% of Laos’ exports. 

Another massive challenge for Laos is to maintain its extraordinary biodiversity (it is one of 8 centres where domestication of plants is thought to have originated). Thanks to programmes that group agriculture with the use of forestry and polycultures, rural Laos has been able to preserve and make the most of the genetic treasures of this resilient fauna and flora.

Laotians often say “some are brave in the village but cowards in the forest.” Be one of the braves, support Laos even in the dark forest.


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DATA INSIGHTS

The World Bank classifies Laos as a lower middle-income country. It is helpful to observe Laos’ history of carbon emissions and exposure to climate risk. The following graphs give an overview of Laos’ historic greenhouse gas emissions in perspective with global emission levels, as well as the country’s relative vulnerability and preparation of climate change.

Laos Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Laos’ timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%. 


From 1990 to 2008, Laos‘s emissions declined by 29%. However, Laos’ emissions started rising in the following year and increased rapidly in one year alone (2010 - 2011). Petroleum-derived fuels are in large part responsible for this increasing trend. Overall, Laos’s GHG emissions increased by 437% between 1990 and 2012. The land-use change and forestry (LUCF) sector is responsible for the largest share (61%) of Laos’s emissions, followed by the agriculture sector (27%). LUCF emissions are mainly driven by logging and clearing of forests into agricultural use. Within the agriculture sector, the majority of emissions come from methane produced by livestock digestion and manure left on pasture. 


Despite having a strong growth in emissions, Laos made only a small contribution to 2012 global GHG emissions. However, there is still room for improvement. To reduce the country’s emissions, Laos requires further efforts such as regulating the unsustainable land use and shifting a fossil-fuel dominated system towards renewable energy solutions. (Source: WRI, 2018; World bank, 2018)

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Laos Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Laos’ timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

graph

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%. 


From 1990 to 2008, Laos‘s emissions declined by 29%. However, Laos’ emissions started rising in the following year and increased rapidly in one year alone (2010 - 2011). Petroleum-derived fuels are in large part responsible for this increasing trend. Overall, Laos’s GHG emissions increased by 437% between 1990 and 2012. The land-use change and forestry (LUCF) sector is responsible for the largest share (61%) of Laos’s emissions, followed by the agriculture sector (27%). LUCF emissions are mainly driven by logging and clearing of forests into agricultural use. Within the agriculture sector, the majority of emissions come from methane produced by livestock digestion and manure left on pasture. 


Despite having a strong growth in emissions, Laos made only a small contribution to 2012 global GHG emissions. However, there is still room for improvement. To reduce the country’s emissions, Laos requires further efforts such as regulating the unsustainable land use and shifting a fossil-fuel dominated system towards renewable energy solutions. (Source: WRI, 2018; World bank, 2018)

Laos Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Laos’ vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right. 


Laos is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. Rice and wheat production are forecasted to decline significantly under projected climate change. Decrease in precipitation due to climate change is expected to lead to longer drought periods thereby paralysing the agriculture capacity and food security of the country. A rise in temperature due to climate change also increases vulnerability on forests and biodiversity. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys.


TAKE ACTION

Laos Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Laos’ vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

graph

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right. 


Laos is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. Rice and wheat production are forecasted to decline significantly under projected climate change. Decrease in precipitation due to climate change is expected to lead to longer drought periods thereby paralysing the agriculture capacity and food security of the country. A rise in temperature due to climate change also increases vulnerability on forests and biodiversity. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys.


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