Sunday, October 24, 2010

National Vulnerability to Climate Change: 2040

The British corporation Maplecroft, which specializes in developing quantitative measures of risk, has just released a report calculating the vulnerability of 170 countries to the impacts of climate change over the next 30 years. The report uses 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core areas: 1) exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; 2) human sensitivity, in terms of population patterns, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflicts; and 3) the adaptive capacity of a country’s government and infrastructure to combat climate change.

The results, summarized by the accompanying map, rank countries from extreme to low risk. A number of countries projected to be major economies of the future are among those with either extreme (Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Vietnam and Pakistan) or very high (China, Brazil, Japan) levels of risk. The Guardian summarized the report as follows:
According to Maplecroft, the countries facing the greatest risks are characterised by high levels of poverty, dense populations, exposure to climate-related events and reliance on flood- and drought-prone agricultural land.

Bangladesh ticks most of these boxes and the report warns that rising climate risks could hit foreign investment into the country, undermining the driving force behind economic growth of 88 per cent between 2000 and 2008.

Similarly, the report warned that India's massive population and increasing demand for scarce resources made it particularly sensitive to climate change.

Other Asian countries attracting high levels of foreign investment such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Pakistan were also classified as facing 'extreme risk' from climate change, while industrial giants China, Brazil and Japan are listed as 'high risk'.

"This means organisations with operations or assets in these countries will become more exposed to associated risks, such as climate-related natural disasters, resource security and conflict," said Dr Matthew Bunce, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft. "Understanding climate vulnerability will help companies make their investments more resilient to unexpected change."

Some states were not listed because of a lack of data, including North Korea and small island states such as the Maldives that are vulnerable to rising sea l evels.

Wealthy European nations made up the majority of low risk countries, with Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark deemed to face the lowest risk of climate-related disruption.

However, Russia, USA, Germany, France and the UK were all rated as 'medium risk' countries.


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