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Planet Ark World Environment News Bangladesh, India Most At Risk From Climate Change

Date: 21-Oct-10
Country: NORWAY
Author: Alister Doyle

Bangladesh and India are the countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to an index on Wednesday that rates the Nordic region least at risk.

British consultancy Maplecroft said its rankings showed that several "big economies of the future" in Asia were among those facing the biggest risks from global warming in the next 30 years as were large parts of Africa.

It said poverty and large low-lying coastal regions prone to floods and cyclones were among factors making Bangladesh the most exposed country. India, in second place, was vulnerable because of pressures from a rising population of 1.1 billion.

Madagascar was in third place, followed by Nepal, Mozambique, the Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. Vietnam, in 13th place and flood-hit Pakistan in 16th were also in the most exposed group.

"Understanding climate vulnerability will help companies make their investments more resilient to unexpected change," wrote Matthew Bunce, principal analyst at Maplecroft, who noted that many Asian countries were attracting large investments.

Norway was bottom of the list of 171 nations, least vulnerable ahead of Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark -- all rich north European nations which may initially gain from factors such as longer crop growing seasons.

The ranking combined exposure to extremes such as droughts, cyclones and mudslides, sensitivity to damage tied to poverty, population, internal conflicts and dependence on agriculture, and the capacity of a country to adapt.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists says it is at least 90 percent likely that a build-up of greenhouse gases, mainly from human use of fossil fuels, is responsible for most warming in the past 50 years.

Among major economies, the United States ranked at 129, China 49 and Japan 87. Most European Union nations were low on the list, among less vulnerable countries.

Mexico, which will host annual U.N. climate talks from November 29-December 10 trying to agree building blocks for a U.N. climate deal, was the most vulnerable of rich nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development at 45.

Fiona Place, an environmental analyst at Maplecroft, told Reuters the ranking could help companies plan and identify markets where new environmental technologies are needed.

She also said it could help when the U.N. negotiations are focusing more on helping developing countries adapt to the impacts of global warming.

Some states were left off the list because of a lack of data, including North Korea, and small island states like the Maldives that are vulnerable to rising sea levels.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

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