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Bangladesh, India most vulnerable to climate change

india Updated: Nov 08, 2011 21:06 IST
Chetan Chauhan

South Asia, especially Bangladesh and India, is the most vulnerable region to climate change, a new index that maps vulnerability down to 25 sq km has said.

Most of the countries ranked top on Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) are the ones with fastest population growth and where the climate change mitigation strategies are weak, said a study done by London based research firm Maplecroft.

Many of the countries with the fastest population growth are rated as ‘extreme risk’ in the CCVI, including the strategically important emerging economies of Bangladesh, Philippines, Viet Nam, Indonesia and India.

Countries at an extreme risk of climate change
Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Mozambique, Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.

The index is of over 170 nations is based on 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core areas --- exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity, in terms of population patterns, and future vulnerability by considering the adaptive capacity of a country.

The study rates Bangladesh as the country most at risk due to extreme levels of poverty and a high dependency on agriculture. Bangladesh has a high risk of drought and the highest risk of flooding and in October 2010 5,000 people were driven from their homes due to flooding. The government has the lowest capacity of all countries to adapt to predicted changes in the climate, the recent study said.

One the world’s fast growing economies, India has been ranked second and the study says it will adversely impact “country’s appeal as a destination for foreign investment in coming decades”.

“Vulnerability to climate-related events was seen in the build up to the Commonwealth Games (2010), where heavy rains affected the progress of construction of the stadium and athletes’ village,” the report said.

Countries with low risk
Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.

It also cited recent scientific studies to claim that 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

B N Goswami of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said that Indian monsoon has become highly unpredictable and frequency of heavy downpour has increased because of global warming. Another paper at Centre for Science and Environment workshop on climate change science elaborated on impact of global warming on Indian Himalayas, a key for survival for about 60 % of Indian population.

As compared to India, China has been ranked as relatively lesser risk from climate change because of lesser number of poor and improving infrastructures. Brazil and South Africa, India partners in global climate negotiations are also less vulnerable than India.