Skip to main content

Report: Climate change may pose threat to economic growth

By Tim Hume, CNN
October 30, 2013 -- Updated 0529 GMT (1329 HKT)
A farmer and his children plant a field with bean seeds and fertilizer in southern Ethiopia in 2008, a year after severe floods destroyed most of the food crop. Ethiopia is the country 10th most vulnerable to climate change effects, <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/world/climate-change-vulnerability-index/index.html'>according to a 2013 report by Maplecroft</a>. A farmer and his children plant a field with bean seeds and fertilizer in southern Ethiopia in 2008, a year after severe floods destroyed most of the food crop. Ethiopia is the country 10th most vulnerable to climate change effects, according to a 2013 report by Maplecroft.
HIDE CAPTION
10th most at risk: Ethiopia
9th most at risk: Philippines
8th most at risk: Cambodia
7th most at risk: DR Congo
6th most at risk: Nigeria
5th most at risk: South Sudan
4th most at risk: Haiti
3rd most at risk: Sierra Leone
2nd most at risk: Guinea-Bissau
Most at risk: Bangladesh
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Climate change may be "serious obstacle" to sustainable growth in key cities, says report
  • The climate change vulnerability index is published by risk analysis firm Maplecroft
  • Nearly a third of the world's economy will come from highly or extremely vulnerable places
  • Bangladesh was the most vulnerable country and its capital the most vulnerable city

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Nearly a third of the world's economic output will come from countries facing "high" to "extreme" risks from the impacts of climate change within 12 years, according to a new report.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Index, an annual report produced by UK-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft, found that climate change "may pose a serious obstacle to sustainable economic growth in the world's most commercially important cities."

The index ranked the vulnerability of the world's countries, and the 50 cities deemed most economically important, to the impacts of climate change, by evaluating their risk of exposure to extreme climate events, the sensitivity of their populations to that exposure and the adaptive capacity of governments to respond to the challenge.

READ MORE: Australian bushfires inflame climate change debate

Five cities at 'extreme risk'

1. Dhaka
2. Mumbai
3. Manila
4. Kolkata
5. Bangkok


Source: Maplecroft

It said the combined GDP of the 67 countries classed as facing "high" or "extreme" risks was projected to nearly triple from $15 trillion to $44 trillion by 2025 -- meaning nearly a third of the global economy would be coming under increasing threat from extreme climate-related events. It projected the population of those countries -- currently estimated at more than 4.5 billion -- could exceed 5 billion by 2025.

The index's findings bore particularly bad news for Bangladesh, which topped both lists, with its capital, Dhaka, ranked the most vulnerable city due to its exposure to threats such as flooding, storm surge, cyclones and landslides, its susceptible population and weak institutional capacity to address the problem.

Along with the Bangladeshi capital, the four other cities categorized as facing "extreme risk" from climate change impacts were also located in Asia -- Mumbai, Manila, Kolkata and Bangkok -- and projected to be centers of high economic growth.

The U.N.'s climate chief on wildfires
One man's waste, another man's energy
Scottish wild salmon fishing at risk
Skeptics focus on global warming 'pause'
Climate change impacts businesses

"The combined GDP in these cities is forecast to almost triple from US$275 billion to US$804 billion by 2025, representing the greatest combined growth in any of the risk categories," said the report, released Wednesday. The figures, it said, underlined the way in which "cities with some of the biggest economic growth potential are among those with the greatest vulnerability to climate change."

Greenpeace's chief scientist Doug Parr said the report highlighted "just how urgent the need is for the international community to tackle climate change." "Without a binding global agreement the economic and social impact of global warming will be devastating," he said.

"It would be morally negligent for countries with large emissions to ignore the mounting evidence of the impact global warming that shows that some of the poorest nations on the planet will be hit hardest, while those nations who are seeing the first signs of economic growth after years of stagnation will see those gains washed away by consequences of global warming."

READ MORE: Annual temperatures to reach new highs within a generation

On a national level, many global growth markets were extremely vulnerable to climate change, the report said, with important markets such as Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines all joining Bangladesh in the "extreme risk" category.

Bangladesh was followed on the list of most vulnerable countries by Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Haiti, South Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, the Philippines and Ethiopia.

The vulnerability of many African countries -- which accounted for 14 of the 20 most at-risk nations -- was partly due to their natural susceptibility to extreme climate-related events such as floods, droughts, fires, storms or landslides. But it was also a consequence of the vulnerability of the population, and the inadequacies of existing infrastructure to adapt to or tackle the problem, due to weak economies, governance, education and healthcare.

Countries in south and southeast Asia, which accounted for one-third of all "extreme" risk nations, were likely to face an increased risk of severe flooding due to projected changes in seasonal rainfall. These would also increase the likelihood of summer droughts, and in turn, declining crop yields. The most susceptible populations in these areas were in areas with high levels of poverty, and where large populations had clustered on marginal land such as flood plains or coastal regions in cyclone-prone areas.

Cities with some of the biggest economic growth potential are among those with the greatest vulnerability to climate change.
Climate Change Vulnerability Index

READ MORE: 'Extremely likely' humans responsible for climate change

While the majority of small, developing, island nations faced extreme levels of exposure to climate-related events, their populations and infrastructures were deemed less "sensitive," and were therefore generally not considered to be at "extreme" risk overall. One exception was Haiti, where poor healthcare access, weak infrastructure, high levels of poverty and an over-reliance on agriculture placed the country into the "extreme" category.

Maplecroft's head of environment, James Allan, said that identifying where the risks of climate change were going to be highest was "now an imperative for both business and governments."

"Framing the risks in economic terms makes the issue harder to ignore, especially for business, and it may prompt better preparedness planning," he said. "Nothing prompts corporate or political action faster than having to deal with the aftermath of an extreme climate event."

London and Paris were the only two cities ranked as "low risk," while Iceland, followed by Norway and Ireland, were the least vulnerable countries.

In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest assessment report, a benchmark study on global warming involving the efforts of nearly 1,000 researchers around the world. It expressed widespread, rising confidence among scientists the climate is warming, that humans are responsible for at least half of the increase in temperatures since the 1950s.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT