Much of the world’s potential for further economic growth is in countries at “high” or “extreme” risk from climate change. That’s the conclusion of a new Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which looked at the impacts of climate change over the next three decades and across 193 countries.
The 2014 CCVI, which is put together annually by the global risk analytics firm Maplecroft, looked at a host of social, economic, and environmental factors, which fell under three major criteria. One, exposure to extreme weather, rising sea levels, and other disruptions due to climate change. Two, how much capability a given nation has to adapt to those upheavals. And three, how vulnerable people are in terms of population patterns, development, natural resources, agriculture, war, or conflict.
The countries facing “extreme risk” include rapidly developing south Asian countries like India and Pakistan where hundreds of millions of poor people are attempting to rise into the global middle class, as well as nations in sub-Saharan Africa that are home to some of the world’s most economically vulnerable populations. The 67 countries classified as both “extreme” and “high” risk are projected to nearly triple their economies — from a combined $15 trillion to $44 trillion — by 2025, and will be home to over 5 billion, according to the report.
China, probably the world’s premiere up-and-coming economic power, was categorized as “high” risk, with a ranking of 61 out of the 193 countries. The United States was ranked at 158, making it relatively low risk — but given the damage climate change could very well do to the U.S., “low risk” may be a relative term.
According to the World Bank, nearly half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa lives on less than $1.25 a day, and 14 of the 20 most at-risk nations can be found there. Their vulnerability stems from extreme weather such as drought, wildfires, storms, and landslides, which the World Bank says could leave 40 percent of the region’s land unsuitable for growing staple crops or grazing livestock within two decades.
Meanwhile, south Asia included one-third of the countries at “extreme risk,” and just over one-third of its population lives on $1.25 a day or less. The 2010 floods in Pakistan that affected 20 million people could become commonplace, as could altered monsoon patterns which might undo the rainfall many of India’s farmers rely upon.