Which Countries Will Be Least Affected by Climate Change?

Find out which countries are among the least affected by climate change and the factors that make them resilient.
Published:
Which Countries Will Be Least Affected by Climate Change?
Find out which countries are among the least affected by climate change and the factors that make them resilient.
Published:
Which Countries Will Be Least Affected by Climate Change?
Find out which countries are among the least affected by climate change and the factors that make them resilient.
Published:
Last updated:

Climate change poses a significant threat to the planet. Some countries are better positioned to adapt to its effects due to various factors such as their location, existing infrastructure, and preparedness.

Understanding which countries are least affected by climate change is crucial in developing targeted interventions and learning best practices for resilience building.

Several factors contribute to a country’s ability to withstand the detrimental effects of climate change. These factors include:

  • Economic resources
  • Technological advancements
  • Political stability
  • Effective policies on climate change adaptation and mitigation

Developed countries in Scandinavia, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are often cited as being among those least affected by climate change due to their strong measures in place and favourable location.

Factors affecting climate change impact on countries

Several factors can determine the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. These factors include:

Exposure to extreme weather events

Countries with frequent exposure to hurricanes, floods, droughts, and heatwaves tend to feel the adverse effects of climate change more severely.

Low-income countries are more likely to be affected by these events and often lack the resources to mitigate risks and recover from their consequences.

Vulnerability of countries

The vulnerability of countries considers socio-economic, demographic, and environmental characteristics that make a country more sensitive to the effects of the climate crisis.

Low-income countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate change effects and toxicity, as their populations often depend on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries.

Vulnerable countries also typically need more developed infrastructure and more access to technology that can help them adapt to changes in the climate.

Readiness and adaptation capacity

The ability of a country to absorb the negative impacts of climate change largely depends on its readiness and adaptation capacity. This includes factors such as governance, public awareness, and the presence of policies and measures to mitigate climate change impacts.

Countries with more robust governance, better access to resources, and a more substantial commitment to addressing climate change are generally better equipped to handle the challenges posed by rising global temperatures.

For example, the ND-GAIN Index measures a country’s vulnerability to climate change and its readiness to improve resilience. It considers various factors such as exposure to climate-related risks, sensitivity, adaptive capacity, governance, access to capital, and technology.

By addressing these factors, countries can work towards mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for their populations.

Top countries least affected

Illustration titled 'Countries Least Affected.' The illustration features a centered green globe with three visually represented categories of countries that are least affected by climate change: Scandinavian Countries, Iceland, and Singapore.

Scandinavia

Scandinavian countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, are the least affected by climate change. These countries are known for their unified government policies and commitment towards sustainability.

Their low vulnerability to climate change impacts can be attributed to:

  • High levels of economic development
  • Strong social welfare systems
  • Environmental awareness and education

Norway, ranked the country most likely to survive climate change, has set ambitious goals for reducing emissions and transitioning to renewable energy sources. Similarly, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2045.

Iceland

Iceland, a Nordic island nation in the North Atlantic, is another country positioned to cope well with the impacts of climate change.

Known for its unique geology and abundant renewable energy sources, Iceland benefits from:

Despite being a small country, Iceland sends a crucial message about the importance of environmental preservation and the role of renewable energy in combating climate change.

Singapore

Singapore, a highly developed Southeast Asian city-state, is also among the countries least affected by climate change. Although it faces specific risks due to its location and urban character, it has actively worked on:

  • Building a robust infrastructure to manage rising sea levels and temperature fluctuations
  • Implementing stringent green building regulations
  • Promoting public transport and investing in sustainable infrastructure

Singapore’s focus on innovative solutions to climate challenges has allowed it to adapt and maintain its position as one of the top countries least affected by climate change.

Other nations

Other nations such as New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany have also demonstrated the capacity to adapt and buffer against climate-induced risks. This ability to cope is attributed to their:

  • Robust economies
  • Advanced infrastructure
  • Effective governance in addressing the climate crisis

Promising measures to combat climate change

Climate change is a global issue, and several countries are trying to mitigate its impacts. This section will discuss some promising measures by various nations to address climate change, focusing on green infrastructure, climate resilience, and reducing carbon emissions.

Image titled 'Promising Measures to Combat Climate Change.' The image features a green-colored half globe, with industries emitting smoke and buildings depicted on top, symbolizing the need for promising measures to address climate change.

Green infrastructure

Green infrastructure is vital for countries to address environmental challenges and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A few examples include:

  • In 2019, Los Angeles launched an ambitious plan to become the first major U.S. city to run entirely on clean energy, paving the way for other cities to follow.
  • Countries like the Netherlands are investing in floodwater management and green roofs. This will help manage heavy rainfall, support urban biodiversity, and improve air quality.

Climate resilience

Building climate resilience is essential for countries to withstand the impacts of climate change, particularly concerning food, water, and public health. Notable efforts include:

  • The United Nations recommends ten actions countries can implement to ensure a livable climate by 2030. These actions involve everything from water-saving measures to promoting climate-friendly diets.
  • Many nations are enhancing climate resilience by developing infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events, such as coastal flood defences, storm-resistant buildings, and early warning systems.

Reducing carbon emissions

Reducing carbon emissions is a crucial step in combating climate change. World leaders are taking various measures to curb greenhouse gases, including:

  • Setting targets to phase out coal and invest in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, helps reduce the carbon footprint and foster energy security.
  • Governments are encouraging industries and businesses to adopt low-carbon technologies, promote energy efficiency, and use clean fuels to help reduce emissions from the manufacturing and transportation sectors.
  • Efforts to reduce food waste and promote sustainable crops are vital, as the Agriculture & Food sector contributes significantly to global carbon emissions.
  • Finding solutions to deforestation such as reforestation and afforestation. Trees represent a valuable carbon sink that absorbs CO2. Cutting them down releases them into the atmosphere.

While countries worldwide continue to employ these and other measures in their fight against climate change, wealth and resources can play a significant role in determining the success of these strategies.

The continued collaboration of world leaders and the international community will ensure a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

Challenges facing low-income and developing countries

Illustration titled 'Challenges Facing Low-Income and Developing Countries in the Context of Climate Change.' The illustration depicts a map of Asia and Africa, highlighting regions with low-income symbols, symbolizing the challenges faced by these countries in the context of climate change.  The map of Asia and Africa represents areas that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their low-income status and limited resources for adaptation.  The low-income symbols on the map emphasize the added challenges faced by these countries in dealing with climate change, such as increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and disruptions to agriculture and livelihoods.  The illustration visually communicates the idea that low-income and developing countries face unique and heightened challenges related to climate change, underscoring the urgent need for international support, climate financing, and capacity-building efforts to help these countries build resilience and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on their communities and economies.

Africa’s struggle with climate change

In Africa, low-income and developing nations grapple with the consequences of climate change. These countries are disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters such as extreme droughts, floods, and heat waves. According to the BBC, they have limited resources and struggle to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Some of the key challenges facing African countries include:

  • Increased food insecurity due to declining agricultural productivity
  • Water scarcity as a result of shrinking water resources
  • Displacement of people by extreme weather events like floods
  • Increased health risks from vector-borne diseases linked to changes in temperature and precipitation patterns

In addition, the UNDP states that despite being the least responsible for causing climate change, many African countries are striving to take bold climate action.

The impact on Asian developing countries

Developing Asian countries also experience heightened risks due to climate change. With their densely populated areas and economies heavily dependent on agriculture, these countries are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

According to the UN, people in low-income Asian countries are at least four times more likely to be displaced by extreme weather than those in wealthy countries.

Furthermore, declining agricultural output leads to increased undernutrition and decreases access to public health services, thereby hindering progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals, as indicated in the Lancet.

Some of the main challenges faced by Asian developing countries include:

  • Coastal flooding due to sea-level rise affecting densely populated coastal areas
  • Extended periods of drought make water and food security even more precarious
  • The increasing intensity and frequency of storms cause significant infrastructure damage and disruptions to daily life
  • Adverse health impacts from increased air pollution, water pollution, and vector-borne diseases

African and Asian low-income and developing countries require international support to address these challenges and build resilient societies adapting to climate change.

Summing up: which countries are at less risk from climate change?

In conclusion, climate change has varying effects on countries across the world. However, some nations experience relatively low impacts compared to others.

These countries are generally better positioned and have more robust resources to combat the risks of climate change.

Factors contributing to a country’s resilience include geographical location, adaptive capacities, and access to international support. The countries with low exposure to climate risks often have moderate temperatures, fewer extreme weather occurrences and are less susceptible to rising sea levels.

Climate resilience factors

Various factors can play a role in a country’s ability to withstand climate change impacts:

  • Geographic location: as a primary determinant of the type and frequency of climate events.
  • Adaptive capacity: the ability of a nation to adapt to alterations in its environment and improve its infrastructure.
  • International support: the assistance that countries receive from global organisations and initiatives.

Understanding these factors can help nations prepare for potential climate change impacts and develop strategies to enhance their resilience.

Forward-looking efforts

To address climate change and its consequences, all countries must contribute to global efforts in mitigation and adaptation. This includes:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Investing in renewable energy sources
  • Strengthening infrastructure against potential impacts
  • Creating effective partnerships for better international cooperation

Being mindful of the disparities in climate change effects on different nations, global initiatives should focus on providing support to the most vulnerable while learning from the experiences of the least affected countries. This collaborative approach can lead to more equitable and sustainable outcomes in combating climate change.

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Author

Rob Boyle
Rob built Emission Index to collect and share data, trends and opportunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and expedite the energy transition.

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