ISSN-2231 0495


Impact Of Climate Change On The Developing Countries

Impact Of Climate Change On The Developing Countries

Associate Professor
Department of Education



Climate change will hit the poor countries the hardest” UN report says. We know that climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as "global warming". On the broadest scale, the rate at which energy is received from the sun and the rate at which it is lost to space determine the equilibrium temperature and climate of Earth. This energy is distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents, and other mechanisms to affect the climates of different regions. Burma, Bangladesh and India can expect stronger cyclones; elsewhere in southern Asia, heavier summer rains are anticipated. Indonesia may receive less rainfall between July and October, but the coastal regions around the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand can expect increased rainfall extremes when cyclones hit land.

Therefore, low-income countries will remain on the frontline of human-induced climate change over the next century, experiencing gradual sea-level rises, stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, and larger and longer heat waves.

This paper will try to focus on the various effects of climate change on the poor and developing countries, as they are already over burdened with poverty, over population, illiteracy, diseases etc. It will also focus on the possible solutions and recommendations on climate change in the developing countries. Various secondary reports, review of related literatures will be consulted and interviews will be taken.

Key Words-Climate Change, developing countries, poverty, impact, solutions.

Climate Change

Climate change is a change in weather conditions, which could be temporary or permanent. Climate change is a continuous physical phenomena of nature. The nature, magnitude and complexity depends on the environmental conditions. Climate change is a change in the of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events).

Causes of climate change- Climate change is caused by many factors such as biotic processes, solar radiations received by Earth, tectonic plates, and volcanic eruptions. Human activities have also contributed significantly towards recent climate change, often referred to as "global warming". Human activities are significantly influencing earths environment.Green House Gas emissions- Scientists have found that 4 most important green house gases which can be influenced by human activities are- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons.

Various studies on Green house Gases-

Top R&D Institutions globally suggest that the Earths have warmed over the past century and that human activity affecting the atmosphere is likely an important driving factor.

National research council study dated May 2001 stated, ‘’Green House gases are accumulating in Earths atmosphere as a result of human activities causing surface air temperatures and sub-surface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are infact rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely most due to human activities,but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability.’’

Green House Effect- The Green House Effect is the process in which the emission of infrared ray radiation by the atmosphere warms the planet’s surface. So the name comes with incorrect analogy with the warming of air inside a green house compared to the air outside the green house. It is known that the earths average surface temperature of 14 degree centigrade would otherwise be of – 19 degree centigrade in he absence of green house effect. An enhanced green house effect is a result of global warming. Atmospheric scientists first used the term green house effect in the early 1800,s.

Human Causes- Climate change can also be caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry and agriculture. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, these human influences on the climate system have increased substantially. In addition to other environmental impacts, these activities change the land surface and emit various substances to the atmosphere. These in turn can influence both the amount of incoming energy and the amount of outgoing energy and can have both warming and cooling effects on the climate. The overall effect of human activities since the Industrial Revolution has been a warming effect, driven primarily by emissions of carbon dioxide and enhanced by emissions of other greenhouse gases.

External forcing mechanisms- Orbital variations-Slight variations in Earth's orbit lead to changes in the seasonal distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface and how it is distributed across the globe.

Solar output-The Sun is the predominant source of energy  input to the Earth. Both long- and short-term variations in solar intensity are known to affect global climate.

Volcanism- The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, affected the climate substantially, subsequently global temperatures decreased by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) for up to three years. Thus, the cooling over large parts of the Earth reduced surface temperatures in 1991-93, the equivalent to a reduction in net radiation of 4 watts per square meter.

The Mount Tambora  eruption in 1815 caused the Year without theSummer. Much larger eruptions, known as large igneous provinces, occur only a few times every fifty - hundred million years - through flood basalt, and caused in Earth past global warming and mass extinctions.Small eruptions, with injections of less than 0.1 Mt of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, impact the atmosphere only subtly, as temperature changes are comparable with natural variability. However, because smaller eruptions occur at a much higher frequency, they too have a significant impact on Earth's atmosphere.Seismic monitoring maps current and future trends in volcanic activities, and tries to develop early warning systems. In climate modelling the aim is to study the physical mechanisms and feedbacks of volcanic forcing.

Glaciers-Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change. Their size   is determined by a mass balance between snow inputs and melt output. As temperatures warm, glaciers retreat. Glaciers grow and shrink due both to natural variability and external compressions. Therefore, glacier history that is related to climate.

Vegetation-A change in the type, distribution and coverage of vegetation may occur given a change in the climate. A gradual increase in warmth in a region will lead to earlier flowering and fruiting times, driving a change in the timing of life cycles of dependent organisms.

Link between Climate Change and Human Devlopment- The 2007 Human Development Report(UNDP:2007) explores linkages between climate change and human development.These linkages raise important questions about social justice, cross generational equity and human security. One of the main aims of Human Development Report 2007 will be to explore the ways in which climate change will interact so as to increase vulnerability, increase poverty,widen inequalities based on region, income and gender and aggrevate ecological pressures. If green house gas emissions are not checked global temperatures will rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degree centigrades by 2100.Driven by the combination of economic growth and population growth, global energy demand is projected to increase by 1 ½  by 2030.

The Kyoto Protocol-The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty, which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, based on the premise that (a) global warming exists and (b) man-made CO2 emissions have caused it. Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions.

Who are the Developing countries- According to the UN, a developing country is a country with a relatively low standard of living, undeveloped industrial base, and moderate to low Human Development Index (HDI).This index is a comparative measure of poverty, literacy, education, life expectancy, and other factors for countries worldwide. The index was developed in 1990 by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, and has been used since 1993 by the United Nations Development Programme in its annual Human Development Report.

The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in two basic dimensions of human development: A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth. Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate. Development entails a modern infrastructure (both physical and institutional), and a move away from low value added sectors such as agriculture and natural resource extraction. Developed countries usually have economic systems based on continuous, self-sustaining economic growth and high standards of living.

Few developing countries- Afghanistan,Guatemala,Panama,Albania,Guinea,Papua,New-Guinea,Algeria,India,Samoa,Philippines,Rwanda,Bangladesh.

Impact of climate change on developing countries-Developing Countries are Most Affected by Climate Change and Need the Support of the developed Countries to Adapt to the Unavoidable Risks. Hurricanes, droughts, and floods appear to be increasing as global warming increases. There is a corresponding increase in the number of victims and their injuries, hospitalization, and financial losses. For developing countries with poor economies and weak socioeconomic structures, climatic phenomena such as El Niño have especially grave consequences. The droughts and floods caused by the El Niño cycle in 1982-83 led to a fall in gross national product of some 10% in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru, with corresponding consequences for health care. Increasing evaporation of water from the oceans will increase the likelihood of floods. The immediate effects of flooding include a rise in the number of injuries and drowning. In the medium term, a consequent acute shortage of clean drinking water and infection from contaminated water often leads to an increase in cases of hepatitis-A and cholera.

Climate change will hit the poor countries more- In an ever-progressing world with an increasing demand for energy, it is difficult to avoid climate change and its impacts on societies both locally and globally. Climate change affects social development factors, such as, poverty, infrastructure, technology, security, and economics across the globe.In particular, impoverished communities experience reductions in safe drinking water as well as food security as a result of climate change (OECD 2013).These typically rural, isolated communities do not exhibit sufficient financial and technical capacities to manage the risks associated with climate change.

Predictions for the future-

  1. 1. The World Bank Group says that global warming will lead to a major food-crisis in the future. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are expected to be the worst-hit.
  2. 2. Global warming is expected to cause major changes in climate- from causing drought in some regions to causing severe storms in others.
  3. 3. Places such as Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are considered to be "hot-spots" for the climate change as these places will be badly affected by sea-level rise and severe tropical storms.
  4. 4. Low-lying countries such as Kiribati are already sinking due to climate change and rising population.
  5. 5. Reports show that by 2030, about 40 percent of land currently used for agriculture would be unable to yield any crop due to drought.
  6. 6. By 2050, the number of under-nourished people in this region is expected to rise by 25-90 percent, compared to the current population.
  7. 7. A similar climate change could affect Southeast Asia too with countries such as India and Pakistan getting inconsistent amount of rainfall during monsoon. Currently, an early and abnormally high rainfall in parts of India has caused 73 deaths and left thousands homeless.
  8. 8. Last year, Lord Nicholas Stern, former World Bank chief economist and author of the landmark Stern had remarked that poor countries such as India and China need to have greater emission cuts because they have had the highest greenhouse gas emission in past two decades.If this continues, this will lead to major climate change.
  9. 9. The developing countries, on the other hand, have long insisted that already industrialized nations, like the U.S. had a greater role to play in raising the levels of greenhouse gases over the years.

IPCC Report- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report projects that there is likely to be at least a 0.4-1.6 Celsius increase in global mean surface temperature by the period of 2046-2065 and likely a sea level  rise of 0.17-0.32 meters by this time due to recent trends relative to 1986-2005 (IPCC 2013). The report claims that “over the period 1993 to 2010, global mean sea level  rise is, with high confidence, consistent with the sum of the observed contributions from ocean thermal expansion due to warming…the sum of these contributions is 2.8 mm/yr” (IPCC 2013).

Glaciers and ice-sheets l are clearly melting now more than they have been in recent history. Not only that, but “the global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation” (IPCC 2013).

The need to support developing countries

According to Peter Hoppe: a world environmentalist-Global warming will increase the variability of weather and most likely result in more extreme weather events. The Munich Re Nat Cat SERVICE data on loss relevant natural disasters already show such a trend for the last 30 years.The German watch Climate Risk Index, which ranks the countries according to their extreme weather risks, shows that all countries in the top ten of this index are developing countries, led by Bangladesh, Myanmar and Honduras. 95% of fatalities from natural disasters in the last 25 years occurred in developing countries. Furthermore, indices characterizing the expected range of future changes of climate like the Climate Change Index (Baettig et al., 2007) clearly show that in many developing countries these changes will be most pronounced.Taking into consideration that already today the climate conditions in many of these countries are on the edge of allowing a sustainable livelihood to the people.Developing countries do not have a history of large emissions of green house gases and thus have not contributed significantly to the causes of climate change.

So it is in the responsibility of the industrialized countries, which have caused the problem, to support the people in the developing countries to mitigate climate risks and help them to adapt to the change

Insurance related solutions

Insurance approaches have been mentioned in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate negotiations since the Convention was framed in the early 1990s. More recently, the issue has received renewed attention in the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan and in the Cancun agreement on a “Loss and Damage” program.

Solutions of Climate Change-

  1. Reduce Emissions
  1. Sustainable Agriculture
  2. Sustainable forestry management
  3. Water Resource Management
  4. Industrial Waste Management
  5. Exposing special interest groups and policy makers who misrepresent climate science
  6. Energy Infrastructure ,Services and Efficiency Improvement: The energy used to power, heat, and cool our homes, businesses, and industries is the single largest contributor to global warming.
  7. Greening transportation: The transportation sector's emissions have increased at a faster rate than any other energy-using sector over the past decade.
  8. A variety of solutions are at hand, including improving efficiency (miles per gallon) in all modes of transport, switching to low-carbon fuels, and using electric vehicles.
  9. Reviving up renewable energy: Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy are available around the world.
  10. Multiple studies have shown that renewable energy has the technical potential to meet the vast majority of our energy needs.
  11. Phasing out fossil fuel electricity: Dramatically reducing our use of fossil fuels—especially carbon-intensive coal—is essential to tackle climate change.
  12. There are many ways to begin this process- Key action steps include: not building any new coal-burning power plants, initiating a phased shutdown of coal plants starting with the oldest and dirtiest, and capturing and storing carbon emissions from power plants.
  13. Managing forests and agriculture: Taken together, tropical deforestation and emissions from agriculture represent nearly 30 percent of the world's heat-trapping emissions.
  14. We can fight global warming by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and by making our food production practices more sustainable.
  15. Developing and deploying new low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies: Research into and development of the next generation of low-carbon technologies will be critical to deep mid-century reductions in global emissions.
  16. Ensuring sustainable development: The countries of the world—from the most to the least developed—vary dramatically in their contributions to the problem of climate change and in their responsibilities and capacities to confront it.
  17. Governance Approach-
  18. Legal Frame work
  19. Policy Framework
  20. Institutional Framework
  21. Social Framework-role of private sector and civil societies

Dimensional Approaches to Climate Change-

  1. Economic Dimensions- Governments may have different sets of criteria for assessing international as well as domestic greenhouse policy instruments. Among these criteria are efficiency and cost effectiveness, effectiveness in achieving stated environmental targets, distributional (including intergenerational) equity, flexibility in the face of new knowledge, understanding the general public, and consistency with national priorities, policies. institutions and traditions.
  1. Technological Dimensions- Technology matters because we need innovative forms of creating, storing and transporting energy
  2. Socio-cultural dimensions- Climate policies will consequently succeed, fail or, at minimum, be enhanced by the everyday actions of empowered and capable individuals, households, communities and countries. Moreover, climate change policies can do more than ensure a climate-resilient and sustainable economic future. They also present an opportunity to achieve more just and equitable societies, and advance truly sustainable economic development approaches. Culture is defined here as the symbols that express meaning, including beliefs, rituals, art and stories that create collective outlooks and behaviours, and from which strategies to respond to problems are devised and implemented. Thus, as culture and community are frequently rooted in place—from metropolitan areas through to marginal rural settlements—climate change impacts in these places may also change cultures and communities, often in ways that people find it  undesirable and  life threatening.
  3. Ethical and moral dimensions- The ethical implications of global climate change must seriously take into account the uncertainties embedded in scientific knowledge about climate change and its future implications. Furthermore, the fact that some of these uncertainties are recognized to be irreducible and needs to clarify the ethical grounds of response. It lies in the hands of people to responsibly use the earth’s resources.


Therefore, Global warming is unequal in different parts of the earth and early action by all and governments are needed to reduce serious climate risks. Large number of mitigation and adaptation  technologies are available now and in the near future to reduce and adapt to Green House Gas emissions, linking sustainable development with climate change policies will make it easier to control climate change risks. An effective climate change strategy will require a portfolio of policies and measures that integrate development, equity and sustainability. Decision making in a sustainable development context would require broadening economic analysis of climate change by including all co-benefits. Climate change will worsen the gap in distributional goods and services between and within generations as the poor and dis-advantaged will be the most affected. Sustainable development can be achieved through climate change adaptation and proper governmental action.


  1. University News,vol.45,No.44 October 29-November 4th, 2007,ISSN No.0566-2257

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