President Biden has wasted no time in moving to repudiate his predecessor’s regressive climate policies. That’s good news. This map shows which areas could be at high risk unless greenhouse-gas emissions are cut drastically.
We’ve colored the map to identify the top risks across the globe, using a model by Four Twenty Seven, a company that analyzes climate risks. Accumulated emissions in the atmosphere are causing accelerating risks for a number of climate hazards.
Tell us where you live and see how your country compares.
In the United States, for instance, nearly 80 percent of the population, the economy and agriculture will be exposed to at least one high-risk climate hazard.
Worldwide, roughly 90 percent of the population will be exposed to one or more threats. This map is colored according to the risk affecting the highest share of the population in each area.
From 2000 to 2019, floods upended the lives of at least 1.65 billion people — the highest number in any disaster category. In 2040, 41 percent of the global population will be exposed to the risk of inundations. Southern and southeastern Asia would be among the places hardest hit, with more than two billion people at risk.
In the past 20 years, hurricanes, typhoons and other storms were the deadliest weather-related disasters, killing nearly 200,000 people worldwide. That is only expected to get worse. Island nations in the Caribbean and East Asia are the most vulnerable, with many lying along historical storm paths.
Heatwaves, which caused 91 percent of extreme temperature deaths in the past two decades, will be especially pronounced in Africa, where almost one billion people face a high risk of heat stress.
Northern parts of South America will be another densely populated area threatened by extreme heat. In Colombia and Venezuela, more than 90 percent of the population will be exposed. So will their crops.
Then there is climate inequality. Most people at greatest risk from climate change live in low- and mid-income regions. A 2019 study found that climate change has already deepened global economic inequality by around 25 percent.
In densely populated lower-income countries close to the equator, with weak economies, inadequate roads and power supplies and other infrastructure deficiencies, climate risks could lead to food shortages, mass migrations and other social challenges.
To make things worse, many of those countries will be exposed to multiple risks, which makes mitigation particularly challenging.
Consider the Philippines. In 2040, the country’s projected 134 million people, spread across a vast archipelago, will face a high risk of at least one climate hazard.
India faces a similar forecast, where floods, heat, lack of water and wildfires could diminish productivity, threaten crops and disrupt food supplies.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has been suffering from climate change for years. Threats there include crop failures, contamination of water supplies and spread of diseases like malaria and cholera.
Rich Western countries are hardly immune. Increased temperatures in the Mediterranean could diminish productivity and crop yields, and disrupt entire industries like wine production in Spain.
California, a melting pot of climate hazards, faces almost every type of climate risk. Scientists predict that by the end of the century, rising sea levels could erode 31 percent to 67 percent of Southern California beaches, and the average area scorched by wildfires may increase by 77 percent.
Global challenges require a global response. On his first day in office, President Biden rejoined the Paris climate agreement, from which his predecessor had withdrawn; canceled the Keystone XL pipeline; and is moving to undo other anti-climate policies. All of that is encouraging.
But much more needs to be done worldwide. The United Nations warns that carbon emissions must fall by half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Otherwise, Secretary‑General António Guterres said, “the disruption to economies, societies and people caused by Covid-19 will pale in comparison.”