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31% of economic output to face climate change risks by 2025
Written by Deborah Ritchie
New research by global risk analytics company Maplecroft, has revealed that 31% of global economic output will be based in countries facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme risks’ from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025 – a 50% increase on current levels and more than double since the company began researching the issue in 2008.
The economic impacts of climate change will be most keenly felt by Bangladesh (1st and most at risk), Guinea-Bissau (2nd), Sierra Leone (3rd), Haiti (4th), South Sudan (5th), Nigeria (6th), DR Congo (7th), Cambodia (8th), Philippines (9th) and Ethiopia (10th), which make up the 10 most at risk countries out of the 193 rated by the CCVI. However, other important growth markets at risk include: India (20th), Pakistan (24th) and Viet Nam (26th) in the ‘extreme risk’ category, in addition to Indonesia (38th), Thailand (45th), Kenya (56th) and most significantly China (61st), classified at ‘high risk.’
Maplecroft’s CCVI has been developed to identify climate-related risks to populations, business and governments over the next 30 years, down to a level of 22km² worldwide. It does so by evaluating three factors: exposure to extreme climate-related events, including sea level rise and future changes in temperature, precipitation and specific humidity; the sensitivity of populations, in terms of health, education, agricultural dependence and available infrastructure; and the adaptive capacity of countries to combat the impacts of climate change, which encompasses, R&D, economic factors, resource security and the effectiveness of government.
Future estimates of the overall cost of climate change on the global economy include a wide spectrum of opinions. What cannot be disputed is that the ‘high’ and ‘extreme risk’ countries in Maplecroft’s CCVI include emerging and developing markets whose importance to the world economy is ever increasing. By 2025, China’s GDP is estimated to treble from current levels to $28 trillion, while India’s is forecast to rise to US$5 trillion – totalling nearly 23% of global economic output between them.
India’s economic exposure to the impacts of extreme climate related events was recently highlighted by Cyclone Phailin. The storm caused an estimated US$4.15 billion of damage to the agriculture and power sectors alone in the state of Odisha, which is also India’s most important mining region. Up to 1 million tonnes of rice were destroyed, while key infrastructure, including roads, ports, railway and telecommunications were severely damaged, causing major disruption to company operations and the supply chains of industrial users of minerals.
“With global brands investing heavily in vulnerable growth markets to take advantage of the spending power of rising middle class populations, we are seeing increasing business exposure to extreme climate related events on multiple levels, including their operations, supply chains and consumer base,” states James Allan, head of environment at Maplecroft. “Cyclone Phailin demonstrates the critical need for business to monitor the changing frequency and intensity of climate related events, especially where infrastructure and logistics are weak.”
According to Maplecroft, the ability of highly vulnerable countries to manage the direct impact of extreme events on infrastructure will be a significant factor in mitigating the economic impacts of climate change and may present opportunities for investment. Adaptive measures, such as building flood defences and greater infrastructure resiliency, will, however, require the sustained commitment of governments.
Most at risk
With commercial activity and the middle classes predominantly based in urban centres, Maplecroft has also calculated the risks to the world’s largest cities to pinpoint where the economic exposure will be highest over the next 30 years.
According to the CCVI’s sub-national calculations, of the 50 cities studied, five present an ‘extreme risk’ – Dhaka in Bangladesh; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Manila in the Philippines and Thailand’s Bangkok – while only two were classified as ‘low risk,’ London in the UK and Paris, France. Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta, which encompasses the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Foshan and make up China’s manufacturing heartland, are, however, among the most exposed to physical risks from extreme climate-related events.
Greatest increase in risk
Meanwhile, the regions facing the most increased levels of risk are West Africa and the Sahel. Maplecroft’s Exposure Index incorporates recently released UN IPCC climate projections for the period up to 2040, and identifies regions that are projected to undergo a significant shift in key climate parameters in that timeframe. Over this period a projected warming of 20C will combine with substantial changes in rainfall and humidity, which will have a significant impact on communities and businesses located in West Africa and the Sahel. This increase in risk is reflected by the inclusion of West Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, as the world’s sixth most at risk country in the CCVI.