Climate Change Vulnerability Index
India is world’s most vulnerable country to climate change, next only to its neighbor, Bangladesh– according to the 2010 Maplecroft Climate Change Vulnerability Index. With climatic zones ranging from the Himalayas to the humid sub-tropics of South India, along with 5,700 km of mainland coastline and 400 million people living in conditions of extreme poverty, India is fully exposed to the hazards of global warming. Almost the whole of India has a high or extreme degree of sensitivity to climate change, due to acute population pressure and a consequential strain on natural resources. This is compounded by a high degree of poverty, poor general health and the agricultural dependency of much of the populace.
170 countries were ranked for vulnerability to the impacts of climate change over the next 30 years. The evaluation was based on 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core areas. These include: exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity, in terms of population patterns, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflicts; thirdly, the index assesses future vulnerability by considering the adaptive capacity of a country’s government and infrastructure to combat climate change.
Countries at Extreme Risk
The index rates 16 countries as ‘extreme risk’, including nations that represent new Asian economic power and possess significant forecasted growth. According to Maplecroft, these countries are characterized by high levels of poverty, dense populations, exposure to climate-related events; and their reliance on flood and drought prone agricultural land. South Asia features strongly in this group.
Countries at Extreme Risk: 1.Bangladesh; 2.India; 3.Madagascar; 4.Nepal; 5.Mozambique; 6.Philippines; 7.Haiti; 8.Afghanistan; 9.Zimbabwe; 10.Myanmar; 11.Ethiopia; 12.Cambodia; 13.Vietnam; 14.Thailand; 15.Malawi; 16.Pakistan
Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Vietnam, and Pakistan all feature in the highest risk category and are of particular importance as they are major contributors to the ongoing global economic recovery and the West considers them vital to their future business expansion.
Maplecroft rates Bangladeshas the most vulnerable country due to extreme levels of poverty and a high dependency on agriculture, whilst its government has the lowest capacity of all countries to adapt to predicted changes in the climate. In addition, Bangladesh has a high risk of drought and the highest risk of flooding. This was illustrated during October 2010, when 500,000 people were driven from their homes by flood waters created by storms.
Throughout 2010, climatic perturbations resulted in a series of devastating natural disasters in South Asia, where heavy floods in Pakistan affected over 10% of it population (more than 20 million people) killing more than 1,700 people.
According to Maplecroft, there is growing evidence that climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of climatic events. Very minor changes to temperature can have major impacts on the human environment, including changes to water availability and crop productivity, the loss of land due to sea level rise and the spread of disease.
Other Prominent Countries
High Risk: China, Brazil, Japan
Medium Risk: Russia, USA, Germany, France, UK
Low Risk: Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark