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A third of humanity, mostly in Africa and South Asia, face the biggest risks
from climate change while rich nations in northern Europe will be least exposed,
according to a report released Wednesday.
Bangladesh, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among 30
countries with "extreme" exposure to climate shift, according to a ranking of
193 nations by Maplecroft, a British firm specializing in risk analysis.
Five Southeast Asian nations – Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam, the Philippines and
Cambodia – are also in the highest category, partly because of rising seas and
increasing severe tropical storms.
Maplecroft's tool, the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), looks at
exposure to extreme weather events such as drought, cyclones, wildfires and
storm surges, which translate into water stress, loss of crops and land lost to
How vulnerable a society is to these events is also measured, along with a
country's potential to adapt to future climate change-related hazards.
Of 30 nations identified in the new report as at "extreme" risk from climate
change, two-thirds are in Africa and all are developing countries.
especially exposed to drought, severe flooding and wildfires, the report says.
"Many countries there are particularly vulnerable to even relatively low
exposure to climate events," said Charlie Beldon, co-author of the study.
Weak economies, inadequate health care and corrupt governance also leave little
margin for absorbing climate impacts.
At the other end of the spectrum, Iceland, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Estonia
top the list of nations deemed to be least at risk.
With the exception of Israel and oil-rich Qatar and Bahrain, the 20 least
vulnerable countries are in northern and central Europe.
China and the United States – the world's No. 1 and No. 2 carbon emitters – are
in the "medium" and "low" risk categories, respectively.
In a parallel analysis of major cities at risk, Maplecroft pointed to Dhaka,
Addis Ababa, Manila, Calcutta and the Bangladesh city of Chittagong as being
Three other Indian metropolitan areas – Madras, Mumbai and New Delhi – were
listed as being at "high" risk.
"Vulnerability to climate change has the potential to undermine future
development, particularly in India," Beldon observed.
Recent studies – reviewed in a special report by the UN's Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due out next month – point to strengthening
evidence of links between global warming and extreme weather events.
Record droughts in Australia and Africa, floods in Pakistan and Central America,
and fires in Russia and the United States may all be fuelled in part by climate
change, some experts say.
Current warming trends are on track to boost average global temperatures by 5.4F
(3C) above pre-industrial levels, according to some predictions.