Nearly a billion people facing high exposure to climate change effects

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Climate change poses a threat to peace in countries around the world in the coming decade, according to an annual peace index released that factored in the risk from global warming for the first time.

1. Asia-Pacific
424,862,052
2. South Asia
220,631,312
3. Sub-Saharan Africa
121,836,940
4. Middle East & North Africa
58,876,496
5. North America
38,670,011
6. Europe
38,286,305
7. Central America & the Caribbean
34,279,626
8. South America
29,999,452
9. Russia & Eurasia
3,922,699

In the annual Global Peace Index released on Wednesday, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said an estimated 971 million people including more than 2.4 million Australians live in areas with high exposure to climate hazards including cyclones, floods, bushfires, desertification and rising sea level. The top nine countries facing the highest risk of climate hazards were all Asian nations with the Philippines topping the list, followed by Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. In 2019, the world became very slightly more peaceful for the first time in five years, said the IEP, which used data from groups including think tanks, research institutes, governments and universities to compile the index.

Climate hazards exacerbate conflict and migration

The report, which ranks 163 countries by measuring internal safety and security, militarisation and ongoing conflict included climate change risks for the first time this year to evaluate links between climate hazards and violence.

An island's race against time

It found climate pressures can adversely impact resource availability and affect population dynamics, which can impact socioeconomic and political stability.

“When you start to get massive effects from climate change you start to get large flows of refugees,” Mr Killelea said, adding that this migration can increase instability and the impact of terrorism on host nations.

Mr Killelea listed several countries where climate change has caused or exacerbated violence including Nigeria, where desertification has led to conflict over scarce resources, Haiti in the aftermath of multiple hurricanes and earthquakes, and South Sudan, where the drying of Lake Chad has exasperated tensions. In 2017, over 60 per cent of total displacements around the world were due to climate-related disasters, while nearly 40 per cent were caused by armed conflict. More peaceful countries are better-placed to cope with climate-induced shocks and tend to have higher environmental performance than less peaceful nations, for whom climate shocks are harder to manage, the report found.

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