Consequences of Global Climate Change: Which Countries are Most Threatened?


Consequences of Global Climate Change: Which Countries Are the Most Threatened?

Which countries will suffer the most as a result of global climate change?

The global climate is changing and as it does, certain countries are likely to feel the brunt of it. The poorest nations, those that emit the least carbon, are the most threatened by global climate change. Though you might be surprised at where many countries fall.

Standard & Poor’s looked at the impact of global climate change on each country’s economy. The analysis was based on the percentage of countries living on the coast, the percentage of the economy based on agriculture, and the development of each nation.

According to the Standard & Poor’s report on IBT Pulse, “While most sovereigns will feel the negative effects of climate change to some degree, we expect the poorest and lowest-rated sovereigns will bear the brunt of the impact. This is in part due to their reliance on agricultural production and employment, which can be vulnerable to shifting climate patterns and extreme weather events, but also due to their weaker capacity to absorb the financial cost.”

The countries hit hardest by climate change include Cambodia, which has 10 percent of its population living on the coast, 36 percent of its economy is based on agriculture, and it ranks poorly in life supporting services like food, water, health, and infrastructure. Vietnam was also high on the list because so much of its population lives on the coast and a good portion of the economy is built on agriculture. It also ranks poorly in terms of supportive services. Other vulnerable countries include Bangladesh, Senegal, and Mozambique.

The biggest threats arising from climate change include droughts, flooding, storms, rising sea levels, and uncertainty about agriculture. This puts other countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Burundi, and Chad at risk.

Even though the Philippines is a middle income country in Southeast Asia, it’s made up of 7,000 islands that frequently face stronger and stronger storms. And then there’s the flooding. If carbon emissions continue at the level they are today the sea will rise putting 2.6 percent of the global population at risk for flooding (that’s 177 million people!) This includes a quarter of Vietnam’s population and 4 percent of China’s population (50 million people) for example.

Much of Southeast Asia will be at risk for flooding as will the Netherlands. However, the Netherlands is well prepared with the most advanced levee system in the world. And while other countries will likely follow suit, poorer nations won’t be able to afford the infrastructure. In the U.S., 3.1 million people will be impacted by flooding. That’s a small percentage when you consider that we’re the world’s largest emitter.

This is an aerial view that includes just a few of the implications of a changing global climate. And this is why it should be issue number one for lawmakers.

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Image: U.S. Geological Survey

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Sara Novak