China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, the US, Philippines, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Myanmar, and Netherlands are extremely vulnerable – in descending order starting with the country most at risk – by rising oceans as a result of climate change, according to a report from Climate Central, a non-profit organization focusing on climate science. The study showed that these countries have more than 10 million people living on land that would be destroyed should the earth’s temperature rise to 4 degrees Celsius.
Roughly a quarter of the world’s people who live on land at risk from 4°C warming (predicted if no action is taken to curb emissions) are living in China. That is more than twice as many as who live on vulnerable land in Europe and the US combined. For example, Shanghai, China’s largest city, with a population of around 24 million at the edge of the East China Sea, has the most to lose from rising sea levels. Climate Central estimates that 76 percent of the Shanghai region’s current population lives in areas that could eventually be underwater if the Earth warms by 4°C by 2100.
China produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other country, and China has the most to gain from limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius – one of the temperature targets agreed at the Paris climate conference in December.
A carbon path that limits warming to 2 degrees Celsius would reduce exposure for more than 10 million in each listed nation (except for in China, Myanmar, and the Netherlands). In Vietnam, exposure would be reduced by 44 percent, 45 percent in Brazil, and 13 percent in the Netherlands, according to the report. The predictions were based on predicted median sea level rise data and global elevation data, with a tendency to “understate exposure.”