Climate crisis will have severe consequences on 6 places globally

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Climate change is expected to affect every country in the world, but its impact will not be felt equally across all regions and some will be worse hit than others because of a range of different threats.

Developing countries, places with widespread poverty, and countries with ineffective governments sometimes face the gravest risks from the changing climate, and are usually poorly equipped to find ways to prepare for and prevent environmental threats.

Measuring the future impact of climate change is very challenging, because scientists’ climate change projections cannot be completely exact and because there are many different factors that come into play such as the risk of extreme weather events and rising temperatures.

Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos is at “extreme” risk on Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index. This is especially concerning because its population is expanding rapidly, and it is considered to be a major economic engine for the region.

The governor boasted that Lagos had reached a GDP of $136 billion in 2017, which is about a third of the entire country’s GDP. The city is also a major transportation hub, with multiple ports and a major international airport and is a regional hub for high tech industry. Lagos has “transformed” over the last 18 years, Lamido Sanusi, a former central bank governor, told the Financial Times last year.

Climate change could threaten the city’s economy. The city is especially vulnerable because it’s located on the Gulf of Guinea, says Levin. As sea levels rise, it’s likely to affect cause coastal erosion and contaminate potable water. This could harm local agriculture in the countryside and damage the country’s fishing industry, which could be dire in a country with “tremendous” poverty, Levin says. “You could see more and more people moving in from the countryside because of loss of economic opportunity into a city like Lagos, which could make the whole situation more challenging,” Levin says.

Haiti

A man walks in street that was flooded in Malfeti, in the city of Fort Liberte, in the city of Fort Liverte, in the north east of Haiti, on September 8, 2017, during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Climate change can be a “threat multiplier,” says Christina Chan, the director of the World Resources Institute’s climate resilience practice. This is especially true for Haiti.

Since Haiti is a very poor country, recovering from natural disasters and preparing for future storms is especially challenging. The devastation in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew was compounded by the country’s lack of disaster preparedness.

The disasters were major setbacks for the country’s economic development; the $8 billion price tag of recovering from the earthquake surpassed the country’s GDP, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

“There’s certainly a large portion of Haitians that are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and income. And if you have overall patterns of rainfall declines as temperatures rise, certainly that would impact farmers,” Levin says.

Yemen

Moaz Ali Mohammed, a two-year-old Yemeni boy from an impoverished family in the Bani Amer region, who suffers from acute malnutrition and weighing eight kilograms, sits on his mother’s lap at their house in the Aslam district in the northern Hajjah province on July 28, 2019.

Countries with weak institutions and governments are likely to find it especially difficult to adapt to climate change, says Smith. Since civil war broke out in Yemen in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly as a result of the conflict, but also due to the subsequent famine, poor sanitation and a lack of clean water, according to the United Nations. About 1.6 million children in Yemen are living with malnutrition in 2019, according to the UN.

As the report explains, “Parties to the conflict may use food as a weapon, cutting off food supplies, destroying systems of food production and distribution, and stealing food aid. Agricultural production falls, which both limits the availability of food and cuts off many rural houses from their livelihoods. And with higher levels of poverty, many families cannot afford the food they need, especially at inflated prices.”

Malaria is also becoming more common in Yemen, and may be exacerbated by rising temperatures. As Yemen has a long coast, it’s also vulnerable to rising sea levels, according to Levin.

Manila

Flood victims are evacuated in a rescue boat after their homes were swamped by heavy flooding in Quezon city, suburban Manila, Philippines, September 19, 2014.

The Philippines faces a high risk of natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and especially hurricanes. Manila, which is located along the coast, is also densely populated, which makes it more difficult to evacuate, requires more social services and makes it more challenging to rebuild after a disaster.

However, Chan says that the Philippines is in fact on the “forefront of adaptation” to climate change, and have designated part of their budget to making their country’s agricultural sector and infrastructure more resilient, and preparing to respond to future disasters. For instance, the government launched a Flood Management Master Plan for Metro Manila in 2012, which aims to manage future floods by modernizing and building new pumping stations and investing in other infrastructure along waterways, according to the Asian Infrastructure investment Bank.

The Philippines have created a Climate Change Commission, which implements programs such as the National Climate Change Action Plan, a long-term strategy for prioritizing “food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate smart industries and services, sustainable energy, knowledge and capacity development.”

Kiribati

Damaged roads due to the flooding in Kirbati – Tarawa’s single paved road has collapsed because of the flooding from the sea. The people of Kiribati are under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. Each year, the sea level rises by about half an inch. Rising sea levels mean that Kiribati may be wiped off the map entirely in the coming decades. The islands have even purchased 5,000 acres of land in Fiji in case they need to relocate.

This vulnerability has also spurred Kiribati to take serious steps in climate mitigation. Kiribati has allied itself with other vulnerable island countries to advocate for action to fight climate change, and taken other measures such as planting mangrove trees and building sea walls.

The island’s vital fishing industry is also more vulnerable, as climate changes leads to shifts in the ocean, including coral bleaching; damage to the structure of reefs; marine “heat waves”; and other conditions that force marine life to move north.

United Arab Emirates

Like many of the other places on this list, the United Arab Emirates is facing many risks due to its location. Like Yemen and other neighboring states, the UAE is facing an “extreme risk” of water stress, according to Smith, and will need to spend a lot more energy on cooling.

Unlike many other countries facing these threats, however, the UAE is wealthier and is able to make sophisticated investments to blunt the impact of climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

For instance, the UAE is working to produce its own fresh water, build temperature-controlled spaces, investments in green energy, and developing crops that can withstand hotter temperatures.

However, according to Levin, it remains to be seen whether these adaptations will reach Yemen’s entire population, because the country faces rampant inequality.

“The question is, will adequate investments be made in time, and will the poorest be able to enjoy the same kind of comforts as the rest of the population,” Levin says. “You can look at the face of a GDP of a given country. But that really masks tremendous inequality. It’s hard to necessarily say that one country’s in such a better position to withstand climate impacts.”

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