Climate Change

In Maps: What the future holds for our warming world

Climate change will affect up to one-third of the world’s population, but the impact will not be equal across countries

By Pulaha Roy
Published: Thursday 06 April 2023
Photo: iStock

The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change finally came up with the much-awaited “loss and damage” fund for vulnerable countries, the most talked about agenda. But questions still remain as to who is eligible for it.

Ahead of negotiations beginning in 2023, Down To Earth analysed various climate change-related datasets and mapped various future scenarios going forward.

For over 6,000 years, humans have restricted their habitat settlements to an annual average temperature of -11 to 15°C or climate niche. Currently—as of 2020—only 0.8 per cent of the world’s land surface experience annual temperature of more than 29°C or over.

But in a warming world, if emissions go unabated, this range could rise to 19 per cent of the Earth’s surface, affecting 3 billion of the projected 9 billion people, by 2070. India, according to the research, would be one of the worst-hit countries in Asia.

In a warming world, as seen in the maps, “climate suitability” would stretch to even the sparsely populated Arctic regions of the world. This expansion of the climate niche threshold could trigger the next wave of migration for people looking to locate to more temperate regions.

To identify how migration in the future would look like, Down To Earth mapped migration hotspots as per the World Bank’s “Groundswell Part 2” report. According to the report, 216 million people will be migrating within their own countries.

While migration is often influenced by various reasons, socio-economic, political and environmental, the sub-Saharan and African regions will report the maximum number of internal migrants, up to 40 per cent of the global migration. East Asian and Pacific countries (23 per cent) and South Asian countries (19 per cent) are the next hotspots globally.

According to the report, while the Global South will bear the maximum burden of internal migration, the reasons might vary from region to region, depending on various climate change-related issues like water scarcity or rising sea level.

While climate change is a global phenomenon, a common thread across various datasets is how the sub-Saharan countries are disproportionately affected due to global warming.

As seen in the maps and across other future climate scenarios, the region stretching from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east of the African continent, will be the hardest-hit if emissions are not reduced. Niger will be experiencing 238 days of temperature hovering over 35°C, followed by Mali (231) and Sudan (223).

The whole of the Global South will be affected as mortality costs will be into much of their GDPs or gross domestic products. In Niger, the most heat stress-affected country, mortality costs would eat 16 per cent of its GDP, followed by Sudan (11 per cent), Mali and Mauritania (10 per cent). 

This was first published in the State of the Environment 2023 published by the Centre for Science and Environment and Down To Earth

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