Energy Future

10 countries that may be hit hard by climate change

10 countries that may be hit hard by climate change

A home destroyed by bushfire as seen on October 21, 2013 in Winmalee, Australia.
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U.S. President Barack Obama pushed climate change up the global agenda last month, with his offer of $4 billion in government loans for projects that avoid or reduce greenhouse gases.

This move and others reflect a growing acceptance in Washington, and around the world, that global warming exists and will hamper economic growth unless combated. The OECD, for instance, forecasts annual damages from climate change will knock 1.5-4.8 percent off the global economy by the end of the century.

The economic hit will not be equal across countries however. Floods, typhoons, droughts and landslides all take a heavier toll on poorer countries with fewer infrastructures to cope, and where the majority of the populace still work on the land.

With that in mind, click below to see which places could be worst affected by climate change—both environmentally and economically.

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato


Residents walk past scenes of devastation in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 13, 2013 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines.
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The Philippines leads the World Bank's list of nations most in danger of facing more frequent and intense storms hitting its 7,000 islands.

In the last five years, the country has experienced several typhoons that have resulted in severe damage and losses. Some have hit new areas such as Mindanao, which historically have not been affected.

In November last year, Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of devastation across central Philippines, claiming the lives of more than 6,000 people. Government estimates of total damage and losses reached $12.9 billion.


Pius Utomi Ekpei | AFP | Getty Images

Climate change could hamper Nigeria's important oil industry, which currently generates 1.95 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Five months of flooding in 2012, for instance, resulted in an estimated loss of 500,000 barrels per day, according to global risk consultancy Maplecroft. The oil-rich Niger delta is especially exposed to climate change, where rising sea levels have already resulted in the loss of some oil wells.

Increasing variability in rainfall is also likely to hit food security.

Read More Oil is not Nigeria's future: Finance Minister


AFP | Getty Images

Like Nigeria, Vietnam is a fast-growing economy at high risk from climate change, particularly floods and typhoons.

Between 2001 and 2010, natural disaster including floods, landslides and droughts resulted in a 1.5 percent cut to the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP), according to its government website.

The country's Mekong Delta is particularly vulnerable to the sea level rising. The government estimates that if the sea level rises by 1 meter (3.3 feet), over 20 percent of Ho Chi Minh City will be flooded, 10-12 percent of Vietnam's population will be directly impacted, and the country will lose around 10 percent of GDP.


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The impoverished former-French colony is the only country in the Americas or Caribbean that Maplecroft ranks its top-10 countries for climate change "risk".

Haiti's location leaves it vulnerable to both earthquakes and hurricanes, and it has suffered a series of recurring natural disasters that have dented its development, including its ability to prepare for climate change.

The country is still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2010 that killed an estimated 220,000 people and cost around $8 billion, according to the United Nations estimates.

"In Haiti, the population is heavily exposed to extreme levels of poverty, poor basic health and access to health care, inadequate infrastructure and is largely reliant on agriculture," said Maplecroft in its 2014 report.


Razarbag Road in Dhaka is submerged by flood water following incessant monsoon rain which has inundated the capital's roads and crossroads throughout the down-town area. The monsoon has forced the evacuation of more than 1 million people.
Mohammad Asad | Pacific Press | Getty Images

Bangladesh heads the World Bank's list of countries most at risk from more frequent, and severe, floods.

The Bank says increasing glacial melt from the Himalayas as a result of rising global temperatures is set to swell the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries, flooding 30-70 percent of the country each year.

In addition, increasing numbers of cyclones are hitting the south Asian country, such as Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and Cyclone Aila in 2008.

Papua New Guinea

AFP | Getty Images

Papua New Guinea, located just north of Australia, is the country most at risk to climate change in the Pacific region, according to the Asian Development Bank, with a danger that 15.2 percent could be knocked off the low-income nation's economy by 2100.

One victim to deteriorating climate would likely be the country's sweet potato crop, which the World Bank sees declining over 50 percent by 2050.

Read MoreAustralian wildfires put heat on climate change skeptics


Per-Anders Pettersson | Getty Images

Malawi, a developing southern African country reliant on agriculture, is at risk to increasingly intense and frequent droughts, according to the World Bank.

Malawi has undergone two severe droughts in the past 20 years and a prolonged dry spell in 2004. It will suffer reduced agricultural yields and increased damage to road infrastructure over the next 30 years if global carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, academics wrote in the "Journal of African Economies" this year.

Read MoreInvesting in climate change: A 25-stock index


The Sydney Morning | Fairfax Media | Getty Images

Three of Fiji's major industries are under threat from global warming—fishing, sugar exporting and tourism—according to the World Development Bank.

"Under a medium emissions scenario, Fiji could see temperatures rise by 2-3°C by 2070, which could lead to significant decreases in rain-fed agriculture, reduced fish catches, widespread coral bleaching, and falling tourism numbers," the bank said in a 2013 report.

In particular, it forecast that Fiji's sugar cane yield would fall between seven percent and 21 percent by 2070.

It sees tourism revenues in the Pacific as whole falling between 27 and 34 percent as the world warms up, as well as 7.5 percent fall in total fishing catch in the region.


Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah, Reuters

Most of Sudan, one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest countries, is arid land or desert. Its susceptibility to drought makes it the world's most vulnerable country to foods shortages, according to the Work Bank.

"Extremely large relative population increases are projected in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with decreases in average annual water run-off. This will increase pressure on the demand for food and water, when most of the region already suffers from high levels of food insecurity and water stress," says the U.K.'s weather-tracking Met office on its website.

Read MoreClimate change risk to one-third of global GDP: Report


Firefighters check radiation levels at a community center as they patrol the town of Namie, near the striken TEPCO Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture on March 10, 2014.
Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images

As a high-income country, Japan is far better placed to adapt to climate change than its poorer Pacific neighbors. Nonetheless, the high proportion of its population (16.2 percent) that lives in low-lying coastal areas, coupled with its susceptibility to a multitude of natural disasters—all of tsunamis, floods, typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions—mean it is more vulnerable than other rich countries like the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Its integration into the global economy also means that an economic hit is likely to reverberate elsewhere.