Two years ago, the University of Notre Dame published an index revealing which nations were more or less likely to be affected by climate change. Known as the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN), it’s making the rounds again online – and its conclusions are no less relevant today than they were back then.
It’s a comprehensive index: It looks at the vulnerability of each country, as well as their readiness to adapt. For example, what is the state of its infrastructure, its food supply, its technological capabilities? Is it prone to natural disasters or political upheaval? Are authorities prepared for a future of climate change nightmares, or are they distracted by other matters?
A collated map by the kind people over at Eco Experts speaks for itself, but here are the top five and bottom five nations, ranked essentially by subtracting their vulnerability from their readiness. The full ranking can be seen here.
Most likely to “survive” (be less impacted by) climate change:
1 – Denmark
2 – New Zealand
3 – Norway
4 – Singapore
5 – United Kingdom
Least likely to “survive” climate change:
1 – Central African Republic
2 – Chad
3 – Eritrea
4 – Burundi
5 – Sudan
In case you were wondering, the US is at #11, Australia is at #13, and Canada is at #14. China is at #48, and India is at #119.
Spot any pattern? It’s likely no coincidence that the wealthiest and most developed nations are generally the best prepared, whereas the opposite is true for low-income nations.
One of the worst things about climate change is that the countries that are the most prolific polluters are often those that are least likely to be affected by it. It’s morally repugnant, and in fact, it’s one of the reasons why the Paris agreement came into being – it was partly designed to encourage wealthier nations to contribute more to help out poorer countries.
Sure, wealthy nations will be still be affected: America, for example, could potentially experience a climate change refugee crisis, unprecedented natural disasters, and a perhaps an economic recession by 2100, but compared to Africa, India, the Middle East, and South America, this is small fry stuff.
Unlike much of Europe, North America, or East Asia, these countries have one of several antagonizing factors in this regard: middling economies, their positions along coastlines (flooding), low latitudinal positions (droughts), and/or unstable political situations.
Although this index only looks at survivability on a country-wide scale, it’s worth noting that when it comes to wealth, the same pattern replicates itself on a local level. Whether it’s in the US or in Bangladesh, those in poorer neighborhoods always suffer more when climate change comes knocking.
Update: If you're curious, we've also since published a far more comprehensive feature on which countries and communities will fare better as anthropogenic climate change continues to march ever onwards; click here to have a read.