Countries contributing the least to the climate crisis are feeling the worst of its effects

UNICEF found that more than 1 billion children are at risk of weather catastrophes.
These children are mainly from countries with the lowest carbon emissions.

High-risk countries already face extreme heat, water shortage, flooding, and other impacts.

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Tahsin Uddin (23-year-old climate activist) lives in Barisal, Bangladesh. He has lost his family home due to rising sea levels and coastal flooding. He expects that his current house will be submerged in the coming years.

Uddin is one of many millions of Bangladeshis facing the devastating effects of climate change.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (a non-profit climate advocacy organization), more than 20,000,000 Bangladeshis will be forced from their homes by 2050. Nearly 20% of Bangladesh's land will be under water due to rising sea levels.

Uddin explained to Insider that the rising sea levels have a ripple effect across the country. "I travel to different coasts. I witnessed the suffering of many people. They drink salty water to survive. They are very vulnerable to the effects of saline water on their health.

Despite the fact that climate change is a serious problem in Bangladesh, Bangladesh contributes very little towards carbon emissions.

Villagers swim through waist-deep water to reach their homes at Pratap Nagar, which is located in Satkhira in Bangladesh, on Oct. 5, 2021 MahmudHossain Opu/AP Photo

Globally, 34 billion tonnes of carbon (CO2) were released in 2020. But, the countries contributing the least are already experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change.

UNICEF's August report found that more than 1 Billion children lived in areas at high risk of severe weather events. This is nearly half of the world's children. Only 9% of global CO2 emissions came from 33 countries that are most at risk for children, while 70% were due to only 10 countries.

A 2016 study showed that 20 of the 36 countries emitting the most greenhouse gases were the least susceptible to climate change, and 11 of the 17 countries emitting low or moderate amounts were the most vulnerable.

Some countries that have low levels of emissions per capita are high-risk, including Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.

These areas are currently facing heat waves and water scarcity, coastal flooding and water-borne diseases, as well as other hazards. This can lead to poor sanitation and food insecurity, deteriorating living conditions, and income problems. Many of these places are not equipped with the necessary infrastructure and resources to counter them.

Experts and climate activists agree that countries with the highest emissions need to cut their carbon dioxide levels are those who have the greatest need for immediate financing.

In India, heat waves have claimed the lives of thousands in recent years.

For nearly three weeks, large areas of India were scorched by temperatures exceeding 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer 2019. Officials closed schools in some areas. To ensure that hospitals can handle the increased patient numbers, medical authorities cancelled time off for doctors.

Four passengers became ill aboard an express train without air conditioning and died at the station in Jhansi south of New Delhi.

"We left Agra shortly after the heat got unbearable. Some people complained of uneasiness and breathing difficulties. India Today spoke to a passenger who said that they were nearly dead before they could seek help.

More than 200 people died by the end of that heat wave. Extreme heat caused the death of over 2,000 people in 2015's heat wave. According to data from the government, India has lost more than 6 000 people due to excessive heat in the last decade.

Children returning from school on Thursday, May 30, 2019, walk through a dry pond during a hot summer day in Jammu, India. Channi Anand. File/Associated Press

"Climate Change is leading to more frequent and more intense heat waves around the globe," Olga Wilhelmi, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research said, adding that this link has been well documented.

According to UNICEF, 820 million children are exposed to heat waves. This is more than a third worldwide.

Wilhelmi stated that extreme heat was probably one of America's least-known weather hazards. However, it is one of the most deadly weather threats in the US and around the world. "Studies have shown that extreme heat causes death in the US every year for 600 to 1,800 people on average, but that's not something we read in the news."

Extreme heat can cause heatstroke or dehydration, which can lead to serious health complications. Heat waves can also worsen respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Children, older adults, pre-existing conditions and people who have lower incomes are at higher risk.

Electric grids can be shut down by heat waves if they aren't able to cope with the increased demand for air conditioners.

Water scarcity can lead to hunger and poverty.

Another way that people feel the climate crisis is water scarcity. This refers to the inability to access clean water.

Although scarcity may be caused by institutional failures to provide water, it is often due to shrinking water resources or growing populations that require more water.

More than a third, or 920 million children worldwide, are at risk from water scarcity.

This issue affects children in many parts of the globe, including Australia, South America, India, and the Middle East.

While parts of India may be at risk of severe scarcity, India only contributed to 3.14% overall emissions in 2019.

Tonchuiwon Tinphei (34), and her sister in-law Chirmi transport water in baskets as they walk home from Shangshak village in northeastern India state of Manipur on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Yirmiyan Arthur/AP Photo

Insider was told by Greg Pierce, co-director of the Water Resources Group Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (UCLA), that the greatest impact could be felt in rural areas.

Pierce stated that rural areas are often poorer and only have one source of water. People often have to walk long distances to reach the water, which may not always prove to be clean.

Water is not only necessary for drinking but also for the production and sale of agriculture. Water is essential for our livelihoods.

"The scarcity problem makes it harder for farmers to grow food, which is the main source of income for most rural people." Pierce explained to Insider that there is a shortage of water, inability for farmers to produce food, and inability to make any money. "People will starve if they don't have enough water, and this is likely to be more prevalent in many areas of the world, unfortunately."

Residents would have to move or travel further if these resources run out.

Pierce stated that while many areas of India are experiencing water shortages, there are other areas suffering from flooding. The flooding is not a solution to water scarcity, but it does bring about other problems.

Already, Bangladesh is suffering from the effects of coastal flooding that damages property and other resources.

In Uddin’s homeland of Bangladesh, rising waters and extreme precipitation have caused flooding in the last few years.

According to the Associated Press, Bonnotola was once home for more than 2,000 people. Now, it has just 500 people left. The flooding and soil contamination caused many people's livelihoods and homes to be destroyed.

Gabura village woman, one of the victims of saltwater flooding, told AP that everyone used to grow food in their own backyards. However, many people now depend on freshwater and fertile lands.

She stated, "We have water all around us, but we don’t have any more to drink from ponds and wells."

According to William Sweet, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, almost every ocean is experiencing a sea level rise.

According to UNICEF, coastal flooding is currently affecting one in 10 children (or 240 million). Extreme rainfall events are another consequence of global warming. Sea level rise can be exacerbated by flooding.

Sweet stated that heating is causing oceans and ice caps to rise, ice sheets and ice sheet to melt, and oceans and oceans expand. This is also allowing more moisture to be retained in the atmosphere, which is causing heavy rains. The combined effect is flooding, with no place for the water to go.

Although the rising sea level is most widely discussed, the danger of whole cities becoming underwater is not the only concern. There are other serious issues that can arise long before the city or property becomes underwater.

Sweet stated, "It's not when it's underwater, it's whenever the system fails." He also said that flooding can cause infrastructure to collapse, causing damage to roads, stormwater, wastewater systems and personal property.

He stated that by the time the areas are actually submerged, the floods have already driven people out of their homes.

Flood victim in Bangladesh carrying his house by boat on July 27, 2019, during floods in Kurigram (Bangladesh). zakir hossain, chowdhury/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Pierce explained to Insider that coastal flooding causes more problems than the lack of water infrastructure.

"Flooding does not usually increase water supply. He said that flooding can have an impact on water-borne illnesses, particularly because of poor sanitation.

Climate crisis is making it more common for diseases to be prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South America.

According to UNICEF, 600 million children are currently at risk from diseases such as malaria and dengue fever due to rising temperatures.

Most immediate effects can be felt in South America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Martin Muchangi is an AMREF water and sanitation specialist, based in Kenya. He told Insider that he studies waterborne diseases across sub-Saharan Africa and that the vast majority of people are suffering from water scarcity, which in turn drives up waterborne disease.

Muchangi stated that the problem is twofold. One, changing temperatures push mosquitoes to more places and increase pathogens that cause diarrhea illnesses such as cholera and Typhoid. Two, a lack of water leads to poor hygiene and diseases such as scabies and glaucoma.

Insider was informed by him that the problem is causing harm to both the economy and people.

He said, "So, now at the conclusion of the day, you realize there's significant economic loss, there are serious effects on the health, and there's serious consequences for the thriving children."

Many countries that are most affected by the climate crisis have very limited resources.

Although the climate crisis will affect everyone on the planet, there are some countries that have the infrastructure and resources to be more resilient.

Pierce explained to Insider that many of these impacts can be mitigated by strong public health initiatives and the proper infrastructure. Water filtration systems can help reduce the risk of water-borne diseases.

Uddin and Muchangi told Insider that they are citizens of countries where they work and live, but they don't have enough money to address the problems they face.

Uddin stated that funding should be directed to Bangladesh to research ways to remove saltwater from saltwater, as well as to build infrastructure that can withstand flooding. This includes fortifying schools and hospitals, homes and other vital buildings.

Muchangi stated that although it is important to find ways to mitigate the immediate effects of climate change, limiting CO2 emissions would significantly reduce the burden.

He stated, "If we can alleviate climate change ourselves, then the effects will become lessening and we will be able thrive in a more sustainable way."