Climate Change Taking Toll on Low-Income Countries



The subtle and stark effect of climate change can be experienced all over the globe. The gradually shifting weather patter, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers are some of the most devastating evidence of the rapidly changing climate and the disastrous after-effects that follow. But the newest report from BBC shows that the impacts faced by every country and continent are not equal. Low-income countries cannot cope with the repercussions of years of cumulative damage done to the environment.

The Worst Hit Areas

Recently an organization of 90 countries reported that their plans of damage control and reverse climate change have already been outpaced by the disasters caused by extreme weather events that are intensifying with an increased frequency. On Monday, a concerned body of the United Nations will be publishing their new assessment highlighting the current state of global warming.

But, reports are not good. The recent hurricanes and wildfires in the west and floods in China and neighboring countries are depicting the long-painted picture of after-effects. Though the contribution in rising global average temperature has been the highest from the high-income countries, the major consequences are being suffered by low-income countries. Some of those examples are:

Pacific Island’s Falling Seawalls

Coral Sea Foundation‘s estimation reports that Potaminam Island, located 260 km from high grounds, will likely disappear in the coming few decades due to the rising sea level. On the other hand, the people of Carteret Islands are living on the verge of starvation, as crops cannot grow in the soil with high salt content from seawater.

Islands of the Pacific ocean are being washed away

Nukumanu (Tasman) island residents travel hundreds of kilometers to the island of Buka, often time risking their life to buy rations, primarily rice. As one of the many impacts of climate change on PNG’s coral atolls, numerous Pacific islands face drought for over six months every year.

Climate change is already rising sea-level forcing coastal communities to relocate. According to an estimate, 200 million people worldwide could be displaced by the middle of this century due to harsh and inhabitable weather events. In addition, the seawall in the pacific islands are falling, and experts estimated that in the coming 50-60 years, most of the pacific islands will be washed away by the ocean.

Caribbean: Still Recovering

Residents are still recovering from the record-breaking number of tropical storms that hit the Caribbean last year, including the six extremely disastrous ones; the World Meteorological Organisation. Thousands lost their houses, livelihood, and hopes one. Even years down the line, the stormy winds still haunt the locals.

Experts fear, that in the coming years, the number and intensity of the storm are likely to rise, thus causing more destruction. Climate Negotiator of Small Island States, Diann Black Layner says, “We used to see category four hurricanes, so that’s what we have prepared for with our adaptation plans, but now we are being hit by category five hurricanes,”

Climate Change: Adapting to the New Normal

Still, climate displacement is not considered an important global issue. Climate refugees who cross the local and national borders to find safety are still not recognized by UN Charter. Climate activists all around the globe are demanding for “Safe Second Home” for people living under constant threat of climate calamities, where the refugees would have full rights to return to their islands.

40-year old Manase collecting water for her family from a self-dug hole

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, over 80% of all developed countries have already started formulating strategies and implementing more resilient adaptation plans. On the other hand, a study by the International Insitute of Environment and Developments (IIED), published in July this year, found that 46 of all the low-income countries are not financially capable of keeping themselves “climate-proof

Climate Change Triggering Conflicts

A pledge to contribute $100billion every year by 23 developed countries under the EU and the UN climate convention might help provide the poor countries with resources of being climate-proof. For now, the fund will be utilized for emissions-cutting schemes, mitigate-damage adaption triggered by climate-induced disasters. A few years later, the fund will be passed to agencies like Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility, but the contributing countries argue that this promise is often unkept.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that in 2018 alone, developed countries contributed about $80 billion to climate finance. But astoundingly, only 21% of the money was utilized to adapt to climate impact, while a major section went to cutting carbon emissions.

Building a climate-resilient food source and livelihoods, helping poor communities prepare for the climate disasters that will only get worse, and addressing climate change-triggered conflict are ways to make a more resilient calamity relief plan. Fighting against climate change should be a collective effort. Opportunities for collaboration and planning can reduce the damage and risks of conflicts and could foster a better future..”


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