We are probably all aware of the fact that the negative effects of climate change are escalating. One very important question is, which countries will reap the most consequences? A risk consultancy firm called Maplecroft released its 2014 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which uncovers which countries will be likely to suffer the most by 2025. The analysis is based on three main factors: the ability of a nation to combat the effects through policy, exposure to extreme weather events, and the sensitivity of a country’s citizens to these extreme conditions (ie. health, agricultural/industrial dependence, etc.). The risk levels range from low to extreme, as seen in the graphic:
Bangladesh is among the countries that will likely have the most extreme negative impacts. An analysis by Arfan Uzzaman explains that sea level rise is and will continue to be the country’s biggest climate change concern. Scientists estimate that if the same amount of carbon dioxide is released in the air per year (we are currently approaching 400 ppm), sea levels will globally rise by an average of 1 meter by 2100. Currently, about 28% of Bangladesh’s population lives in the coastal zone, where the majority of the country’s resources economic activity lie. It is estimated that a 1 meter in sea level rise will submerge 22,000 square kilometers of land under water. This drastic land loss (16%, according to the analysis) will reduce rice production by 50%. This will cost about $3.5 billion in current market value, and ultimately, a 2.5% GDP loss by 2030, leading to long-run macroeconomic shock.
Bangladesh is only one of many countries that will suffer such extreme economic consequences in the decades to come due to sea level rise. Although the repercussions are irreversible, they can be alleviated through prompt domestic and international action. It will be interesting to hear what global leaders will have to say at the UN Climate Change Summit this Tuesday.