Climate change is giving rise to new humanitarian crises and exacerbating existing ones in vulnerable communities around the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are crucial to avoid a rise in global temperatures and the catastrophic consequences that come with it.
The world's most vulnerable populations are already at the forefront of the climate crisis. To avoid the worst extreme weather and climate disasters, major emitting nations must take drastic measures to curb emissions.
Vulnerability to climate change is assessed based on a country's capacity to protect its citizens from climate disasters and build resilience. Fragility, on the other hand, refers to a country's susceptibility to collapse and inability to provide essential services to its people.
The devastating impacts of climate change are already evident, with more frequent and severe natural disasters, extreme weather events, and escalating conflicts forcing mass displacement.
Here is a list of 10 countries highly vulnerable to climate change, despite contributing only 0.28% of global CO2 emissions, while representing 5.16% of the world's population.
These countries face significant challenges in adapting to climate change and protecting their citizens from its catastrophic consequences.
Most vulnerable countries to climate change in 2023
|Country||Vulnerabilities to Climate Disaster|
|Somalia||Drought, extreme food insecurity, political instability|
|Syria||War, economic crisis, extreme drought, earthquake|
|India||Flooding, temperature rise, glacier melting, rise in sea level, water scarcity|
|China||Flooding, drought, low climate readiness|
|Germany||Flooding, flooding, Forest fire|
|Bangladesh||Flooding, drought, food shortages, rise in sea level|
|Afghanistan||Economic collapse, drought, flooding, food shortages|
|Pakistan||Rapid deforestation, temperature rise, glacier melting, water stress and scarcity|
|Chad||Flooding, economic crisis, food insecurity, conflict|
|South Sudan||Civil war aftermath, floods, low climate readiness|
|Central African Republic||Political instability, severe flooding, water-borne illnesses|
|Nigeria||Flooding, political tensions, conflict, food insecurity|
Vulnerable countries facing climate crisis
Climate change has worsened drought and extreme food insecurity in Somalia, impacting vulnerable communities. The country's political instability hinders effective climate crisis management, with an estimated eight million Somalis facing crisis levels of food insecurity by mid-2023.
A decade of war and economic crisis has left Syria vulnerable to climate disasters. The intense drought and February 2023 earthquake near the Syrian-Turkish border have highlighted challenges in responding to emergencies in a country with high fragility.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Persistent conflict, economic challenges, and disease outbreaks plague the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over 100 armed groups target civilians in eastern Congo, while major disease outbreaks put lives at risk. Climate disasters exacerbate floods and food insecurity.
Growing fragility due to foreign aid breakdown and economic collapse has left Afghanistan vulnerable. The country faces its third year of drought, coupled with intense flooding causing food shortages and displacements.
Years of conflict have led to an economic crisis in Yemen, exacerbating fragility. Millions require food assistance and treatment for malnutrition. Climate change worsens desertification and drought.
Ranked as the world's most climate-vulnerable country, Chad experiences flooding and widespread food insecurity. Conflict and tensions with the Transitional Military Council hinder climate resilience efforts.
High fragility and low climate readiness make South Sudan increasingly vulnerable to climate disasters. Civil war's end in 2018 didn't prevent severe floods affecting over 900,000 people in 2022.
Central African Republic
Political and resource competition destabilizes the Central African Republic. Severe flooding contributes to water-borne illnesses and strains the country's weakened health system.
Political tensions and conflict hinder Nigeria's ability to respond to climate disasters. Flooding in 2022 affected 2.5 million people, and an estimated 25 million will face high food insecurity by mid-2023.
India is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, facing a multitude of challenges that include frequent flooding, rising temperatures, melting glaciers in the Himalayas, a rise in sea levels, and increasing water scarcity.
Drought affects over 24 million Ethiopians, exacerbated by regional conflicts and political instability. Humanitarian support is disrupted, and climate change impacts remain challenging to address.
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