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Countries that will survive climate change: Is your country on the list?

In 2023, the climate crisis isn’t just rolling on – it’s picking up speed. Sea levels are rising, the planet’s land and oceans are heating up and tropical cyclones, wildfires, flooding and earthquakes are destroying lives and livelihoods.

It begs the question – is there anywhere you can go to weather the (both literal and metaphorical) storm?

Well in truth, there’s no place – or people – on the planet that climate change won’t affect. However, there are some countries that stand to be less affected than others: climate-resilient nations that, by virtue of location, laws, luck (or perhaps all three), are better-equipped than others to survive climate change. But which ones – and why?

Below, we unpack everything you need to know to understand climate change in 2023 and, more importantly, which countries will be most and least affected by it. To do this, we’re harnessing the latest data to help you understand the countries that will survive climate change – and the ones that still have a long way to go to both recognise and mitigate the ongoing climate emergency.

So – where does your country rank? Does it make the grade for greenness? Or, as the climate crisis intensifies, should you be surfing Skyscanner for more sustainable shelter?

Understanding climate change

First things first – what is climate change?

Climate change is the long-term alteration of Earth’s average weather patterns and temperatures. The term encompasses both the natural variations in our climate, as well as the ones caused by humans.

Why does it happen? Because of greenhouse gases.

These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases (such as hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride).

They exist naturally in Earth’s atmosphere and play an important role in regulating our planet’s temperature – trapping some of the sun’s heat and preventing it from escaping back into space, a process called the ‘greenhouse effect’.

Environmental damage. Deforestation and logging. Aerial photo of
Deforestation and logging contributes to climate change (Adobe)

However, human activities – particularly over the last two centuries – have led to an increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas), cutting down rainforests, travelling by plane and car all emit greenhouse gases. This, ultimately, intensifies the greenhouse effect – and causes our planet to heat up.

This process, or effect, is commonly called global warming. As the Earth’s average temperature climbs, it has far-reaching impacts, including:

  • Rising sea levels and melting ice caps
  • More frequent and severe heat waves
  • Altered precipitation patterns, leading to drought and heavy rainfall 
  • Shifts in ecosystems and habitats

These aren’t the Earth’s issues – they’re ours. Because, as we’ll discuss at length throughout this article, climate change is already wreaking devastating effects on the world’s denizens (and not only its human ones). Between the loss of our planet’s biodiversity and food security and disruptions in agricultural practices, climate change is happening – and it’s getting worse.

Before we get started with the countries best and worst set up to survive climate change, though, let’s unpack some key definitions.

Climate change encompasses both the natural and human-caused alterations to our environment.

The climate crisis, as a term, originated in 2009 to underscore the situation’s severity – and underline the sustained, concerted efforts required to mitigate its effects. Since then, climate crisis or climate emergency have become the preferred ways to refer to the problem.

Climate emergency formally entered the public lexicon around 2016. Like the term ‘climate crisis’, it attempts to escalate perceptions of climate severity – and emphasise how bad the state of our environment has become. 

Similarly, the term global boiling has evolved to replace the softer-sounding global warming. This change was hammered home in July 2023 by the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in a stark statement, when he suggested that the time of global warming is over – and that “the era of global boiling has arrived”.

Best countries to live in to avoid climate change

To paint a more detailed, nuanced picture of the best (and worst) countries to live to avoid climate change, or at least survive it, we looked at data from a wide variety of sources.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) ranks the world’s countries across two metrics:

  • Vulnerability: Their ability to adapt to climate change’s negative effects. This looks at a country’s food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat, and infrastructure
  • Readiness: Their ability to prepare – through economic, governmental, and social means – for climate change’s ongoing impact

The ND-GAIN’s overall rankings state that the top 10 most climate-resilient countries in the world in 2023 are:

  1. Norway
  2. Finland
  3. Switzerland
  4. Denmark
  5. Singapore
  6. Sweden
  7. Iceland
  8. New Zealand
  9. Germany
  10. United Kingdom

Climate Change Performance Index

Another source we explored is the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The CCPI looks at the “climate protection performance” of 60 countries – so it’s scope isn’t quite as comprehensive as the ND-GAIN’s global focus. However, the countries the CCPI evaluates are collectively responsible for more than 92 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s an extremely handy tool for understanding the world’s best and worst climate performers.

Unlike the ND-GAIN data, which looks at how ready for and adaptable to climate change the world’s countries are, the CCPI measures how well these countries are already performing against climate change targets. 

The CCPI assesses countries on their:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Renewable energy
  • Energy use
  • Climate policy

The CCPI ranks the following countries as the best at climate protection performance. The CCPI has left the first three positions empty to reflect that no country’s performance is high enough to warrant a podium place:

  1. Denmark
  2. Sweden
  3. Chile
  4. Morocco
  5. India
  6. Estonia
  7. Norway
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Philippines
  10. Netherlands
  11. Portugal

In 4th place, Denmark is the CCPI’s top performer while its Nordic neighbours Sweden (5th) and Norway (10th) also make the CCPI’s top 10, while Chile (6th), Morocco (7th), India (8th), Estonia (9th), the Philippines (12th), and the Netherlands (13th) also score highly.

River Severn in Flood at Atcham in Shropshire
River Severn in flood after Storm Dennis (Adobe)

In 11th, the UK ranks fifth in Europe, and second – behind only India – of G20 countries. The US, meanwhile, languishes in 52nd place, comfortably in the bottom quartile of the 60 countries assessed. Elsewhere, fellow Commonwealth countries New Zealand (33rd), Australia (55th), and Canada (58th) all sit amid the bottom half of the data – indicating the countries of the English-speaking Western world still have plenty of work to do to improve their performance against crucial climate change initiatives.

Global Sustainability Institute

Our third source comes courtesy of the Global Sustainability Institute at Cambridge’s Anglia Ruskin University. A 2021 paper explored the role of geographic factors in relation to climate readiness, looking at how their location will affect their ability to withstand climate change.

According to the study, which took into account countries’ measures of self-sufficiency, isolation and average population size, five countries excelled as having “favourable starting conditions”: the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Ireland.

With all that in mind, let’s break down our top three countries to live in to avoid climate change in 2023 and beyond.

1. Norway

Trolltunga, Troll's tongue rock above lake Ringedalsvatnet, Norway
Norway will actually benefit from global warming. The temperature rise will increase areas of vegetation in Arctic regions (Adobe)

Topping the ND-GAIN rankings, Norway is, according to that data, the third most climate-ready country in the world, behind only Singapore and Denmark. In terms of climate change vulnerability, Norway places 184th out of the 185 countries indexed – meaning the only country less vulnerable than it is Switzerland.

Norway is also pipped by only six other countries in the CCPI’s ranking of the highest climate performers – and it’s easy to see why.

In 2017, Norway committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 40 per cent by 2030 and plans to be a low-emission society by 2030. 98 per cent of Norway’s electricity already comes from renewable energy and the country is far and away the leader when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) ownership. 8.1 per cent of its population owned an EV in 2020, more than double that of the nearest runners up, Iceland, with 3.68 per cent.

What’s more, Norway – like its fellow Nordic nations – has geography on its side. Time claims that global heating will see the amount of vegetation the Arctic countries grow each year (or ‘net primary productivity’, if you prefer) almost double by the 2080s. With a thawing of those chilling temperatures and the increasing fertility of the barren land, climate change could make Norway’s harsh winter conditions more bearable, and its economy even more robust.

2. New Zealand

Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand.
New Zealand could act as a kind of climate change lifeboat for nearby Pacific island nations (Adobe)

Placing a highly respectable eighth in the ND-GAIN’s rankings, New Zealand’s geographical isolation and cooler temperatures make it an excellent place to live as the earth heats up.

The aforementioned Anglia Ruskin study named New Zealand as “having the greatest potential” in the list of “geographical locations which[sic] may experience lesser effects [due to climate change]”. Along with parts of Canada, Russia, the British Isles and Scandinavia, the study explains the mountainous, low-latitude regions of New Zealand’s South Island can “remain habitable through the persistence of agriculture”.

The research also claims that New Zealand’s habitat and climate could help it act as a ‘lifeboat’ in the event of mass human migration. Unlike Australia, New Zealand’s cooler temperatures don’t predispose it to bushfires (and the ophiophobes out there will be relieved at the latter’s absence of poisonous snakes).

In the ND-GAIN research, New Zealand is the ninth most climate-ready country, as well as the ninth least vulnerable. As for its score in the CCPI, New Zealand’s 33th places it behind the UK on climate performance, but comfortably above its Antipodean neighbours Australia (55th) – as well as the US and Canada.

Against this backdrop, some sources – such as the Climate Action Tracker, which dubs New Zealand’s climate change efforts “highly insufficient” – claim the country isn’t doing enough. However, the Kiwi government quadrupled its support to countries most vulnerable to climate change (most of this going to the Pacific, which, as we’ll see soon, is crucially important) and is supporting its farmers and growers in reducing agricultural emissions.

3. Sweden

Panorama of Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden met its 2020 climate targets eight years early (Adobe)

Scoring sixth on the ND-GAIN’s most climate-resilient countries, Sweden’s ambitious sustainability targets and planet-prioritising progress also mean it places fourth (effectively second, given there are no countries in positions first to third) in the CCPI’s rankings.

Sweden has pledged to ensure that emissions in 2045 are at least 85 per cent lower than they were in 1990 – meaning no net emission of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Yet, Sweden has already proven that they’re willing not only to set goals, but achieve them – it met its 2020 targets eight years in advance, ranks third for EV ownership, and already uses renewable hydropower for almost half (45 per cent) of its energy needs.

All that makes Sweden a excellent choice for people concerned about the climate crisis – and who want to live in a place that puts the planet first. Sweden is prioritising new ways to innovate sustainably and is among the world’s best at building eco-friendly housing. Sweden also has an abundance of natural resources – including timber and water – which could help it remain self-sufficient as the climate crisis progresses.

As for where it’s located, Sweden shares its neighbour Norway’s geographical advantages and could, too, see increased productivity as a result of climate change.

Worst countries to live in to avoid climate change

While Norway, New Zealand, and Sweden may be among the best countries to see out a climate crisis, where should you avoid ending up as the world heats up?

Climate Change Performance Index

Well, according to the ND-GAIN’s overall rankings, the worst country to live during the climate crisis is Chad. Here’s the full top 10, in descending order:

  1. Chad
  2. Central African Republic
  3. Eritrea
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  5. Guinea-Bissau
  6. Sudan
  7. Afghanistan
  8. Somalia
  9. Liberia
  10. Mali

On the ND-GAIN’s vulnerability index, Somalia is the most climate-vulnerable country in the world. The rest of the bottom 10 is made up exclusively of countries from either Africa or the South Pacific – with the island nations of Micronesia, Tonga and the Solomon Islands all registering extremely high levels of climate vulnerability.

This, by and large, makes sense from a geographical point of view. Many of the countries that stand to be most affected by climate change are the countries that lie along the Equator – meaning central Africa, Central America and the northern parts of South America.

This is where the world is already at its hottest – and where it can’t stand to get any hotter. 

On the ND-GAIN’s readiness scale, the Central African Republic is the nation with the lowest level of readiness to adapt to climate change. Again, African nations are overrepresented here, albeit joined by countries from South America (Venezuela), Central America (Haiti), and Asia (Syria and Turkmenistan).

S&P Global

Exploring this link between a country’s proximity to the Equator and its future prospects, Time analysts mapped an S&P Global report – which assessed how 135 countries might be affected by climate-related events in 2050 – against where they are in relation to the Equator.

The results aren’t good for Equator-adjacent economies. As Time states, the data shows “economies that have huge physical climate risk – in some cases 100 per cent exposed – are generally within 20 degrees of the equator”.

In terms of the South Pacific countries scoring high on metrics of climate change vulnerability, these are invariably island nations. That’s because when sea levels rise, islands are particularly at risk. Rivers and lakes become salinised, fresh water becomes scarce and coastlines, ravaged by intense storms, erode. And, as the climate crisis gets worse, islands shrink (some parts of Kiribati, for example, are already underwater) – so they’re among the worst places affected by climate change.

Climate Change Performance Index

As for the CCPI data, only two of the countries it evaluates (Algeria and South Africa) are African. This makes it more difficult to confidently marry up the CCPI’s worst climate performers with the nations that, according to the ND-GAIN, are both unprepared for and vulnerable to climate change’s worst effects.

Still, we can reveal that the CCPI’s worst performer when it comes to climate change action was Iran, followed closely by Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Korea, and Russia.

With the scene set, let’s unpack our worst three countries to live in to avoid climate change.

1. Chad

Climate change has resulted in a dwindling water supply in Chad (Adobe)

Chad ranks lowest on the ND-GAIN’s overall climate-resilience rankings. It’s also the eight-poorest country in the world, with 88 per cent of the population lacking improved sanitation – and around half suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

Climate change is both contributing to and compounding Chad’s struggles. In the 38-year period between 1963 and 2001, Lake Chad, a vital economic resource providing water to more than 30 million people – not only in Chad, but in neighbouring Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria – shrunk by 90 per cent, from 25,000 km2 to less than 1,500km2.

Over the years, Chad has weathered droughts, increasing temperatures and heavy rains – all of which have combined to not only shrink its primary source of water, but erode the Lake Chad basin through heavy, climate-change-induced rainfall. The area has also been wracked by flooding, damaging homes and businesses.

Unless you’re delivering humanitarian aid, Chad isn’t a country we recommend living in. It’s a state that is struggling economically, socially, and politically – and, unfortunately, climate change will only intensify the African nation’s troubles going forward.

2. Central African Republic

Central African Republic is experiencing an increase in flooding, wildfires, and droughts as a result of climate change (Adobe)

Behind only Chad, the Central African Republic ranks second-lowest in ND-GAIN’s overall index and outright last in the same data’s climate-change readiness scores.

Like its neighbours – Chad to the north, and the Equator-bisected Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south – climate change has already had devastating effects on the Central African Republic’s people and economy. Against a backdrop of flooding, wildfires, and droughts, temperatures there are already stiflingly hot, and getting hotter – while rainy seasons are becoming increasingly irregular and unpredictable.

In 2019, severe flooding forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes. Given the Central African Republic’s poor healthcare and sanitation provisions (plus the scarcity of food), this flooding not only put fleeing farmers at risk of food insecurity, but resulted in outbreaks of malaria and cholera, too.

The Central African Republic is one of the worst places in the world to live for climate change and, also taking into account the ongoing conflict in the surrounding Sahel region, even a visit should be avoided.

3. Afghanistan

Chisht-e-Sharif, Herat Province, Afghanistan. One of two brick d
By 2050, Afghanistan’s average temperature could have risen by 6 degrees Celsius (Adobe)

The seventh-least climate-resilient country, according to the ND-GAIN, Afghanistan is another country being undone not only by climate change, but by war, terrorism and unrest.

Climate-related disasters – including flash floods, avalanches, and heavy snowfalls – affect more than 200,000 Afghan people every year, causing loss of life and property. The average temperature increased by 1.8 degrees between 1950 and 2010, and, by 2050, Afghanistan’s temperature could have increased by anywhere from 1.4 degrees to a staggering 6 degrees.

Similarly, rains have decreased by 40 per cent, while food insecurity is also expected to skyrocket. Ultimately, Afghanistan is facing desertification and land degradation. But unfortunately, the country’s takeover by the Taliban, which has slowed the arrival of international funding for climate change mitigation projects, has only worsened its plight.

Sea level rise and its implications

As global temperatures climb, glaciers and ice sheets in the world’s polar regions and mountainous areas melt quicker. This melted ice becomes water, which flows into the sea. Concurrent to this, the oceans absorb heat from the Earth’s increasingly warm atmosphere and, as warm water occupies more space than colder water, seawater expands.

This combines to cause the world’s sea levels, gradually, to rise. So how bad is the problem?

Since 1880, global mean sea level has risen by around 21 to 24 cm – with almost half of this (9.7cm) occurring in the 28-year period between 1993 and 2021. Sea level predictions for the end of the 21st century look bleak, too, and we won’t be talking in cm then, but in metres. By 2100, the high-end global mean sea-level rise is projected to be between 1.3 and 1.6 metres.

What does this mean for the world’s countries? Well, as we touched on earlier, rising sea levels are particularly dangerous for low-lying island nations. Not only do rising sea levels increase the risk of coastal flooding, they intensify the impact of storms and hurricanes – leaving countries built on ground that’s already worryingly close to the sea even more at risk.

What’s more, research suggests that climate change – specifically glacial melting and rising rainfall rates – can also exacerbate issues below the surface of the Earth, including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Sea plane flying above Maldives islands, Raa atol
Understandably, the Maldives is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels (Adobe)

Popular holiday destination the Maldives, for instance – the flattest country on the planet, with an average elevation above sea level of just one metre – is expected to lose 77 per cent of the land it’s built on by 2100. Sea level rise has already drowned some of the small vegetated reef islands making up the Solomon Islands, while a sea level rise of just 90cm would be enough to submerge two thirds of Kiribati – home to almost 130,000 people – entirely.

It paints a grim picture. Fortunately, though, adaptation strategies for countries do exist, and include:

  • Elevating infrastructure: Raising buildings and roads about projected watermarks to reduce the risk of flooding and damage during storm events
  • Creating coastal buffer zones: Utilising natural features (such as wetlands, dunes and mangroves) to act as protective barriers against erosion and storm surges
  • Zoning and land-use planning: Enforcing land-use policies to restrict new development in high-risk coastal areas and promote sustainable practices
  • Improving drainage and flood management: Enhancing drainage systems, installing flood gates and developing flood management plans to cope with increased sea levels

These strategies and responsibilities, of course, lie more with governments of countries, rather than individuals. But, there’s still plenty everyone can do on a day-to-day basis to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. To find out more, check out our guide to how to be eco-friendly in 2023 – and all the practical, actionable tips for sustainable living it contains.

And, for more information about the state of ongoing sea level rises in the South West Pacific, explore this August 2023 report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Understanding net zero emissions

You’ll hear the term ‘net zero emissions’ bandied about a lot. But what does it mean?

Net zero emissions (also known as ‘carbon neutrality’) refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and those removed from it. 

When emissions are net zero, there’s no increase in the concentration of these gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. Since net zero is an easy concept for politicians and the public to grab on to, it’s a popular way for companies or governments to talk about their emissions targets – to claim they’re net zero now, or that they will be by a certain date.

The Maldives (perhaps for obvious reasons) have set a target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030 – the earliest of any country. For Finland, it’s 2035; for Austria and Iceland, 2040. Germany and Sweden have pledged to achieve net-zero by 2045, while the UK joins the European Union, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea – and many more – with a 2050 target.

On that note, which countries are leading the way in this regard?

According to Energy Monitor, African countries Gabon, the Comoros and Madagascar – the latter two both islands off the continent’s southeast coast – have all reached net-zero.

South and Central American countries Suriname, Guyana, and Panama join Asia-located Bhutan in achieving this feat, while Niue – a self-governing island territory of New Zealand based in the South Pacific Ocean – is also already net zero.

These countries are leading the way to net-zero emissions. So what policies and practices are they harnessing to achieve it?

  • Transitioning to clean energy: Countries are shifting away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power. Costa Rica, for example, produced 98 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2022. To promote clean energy uptake, countries can provide financial incentives, tax breaks, and subsidies – like providing discounts on private solar panels, for example.
  • Encouraging energy-efficient construction: Implementing building codes and standards to promote eco-friendly home design, insulation, lighting, and appliances.
  • Facilitating energy-efficient transportation: Developing public transport systems to reduce individual reliance on emission-producing vehicles, while expanding the available infrastructure for EV and bicycle owners.
  • Rejuvenating forestry: Planting trees on deforested or degraded terrain, or establishing new forests on previously unutilised land.
  • Setting strict emissions standards: Establishing and enforcing regulations for industries, power plants, and vehicles – and levying taxes on carbon emissions to incentivise individuals to reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Managing waste smartly: Encouraging individuals to reduce their waste production and to reuse and recycle materials – as well as capturing methane emissions from landfills to stop them being released back into the atmosphere.

Current state of global warming

Even if we wanted to sugar-coat an issue like global warming, we couldn’t. Put simply, the current state of the climate crisis isn’t good, or even bad – it’s catastrophic.

And unfortunately, it’s getting worse. According to the WMO, there’s a 93 per cent chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will be the warmest to date. The scorching temperatures of summer 2023 have, of course, already shattered previous temperature records – but it doesn’t look like those will stand for long.

As for the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere, the global average in 2022 was 417.2 parts per million (ppm). In 2023, it’s forecast to increase to 419.2ppm. For context, the last time this level exceeded 400pm was in the Pliocene era – around 400 million years ago.

We’ve already talked about rising sea levels. But it’s not necessarily these that we notice every day – nor are the gradually increasing temperatures, or the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, tangible things we can always observe or engage with.

No – ultimately, how climate change manifests is in the seemingly weekly acts of devastation we see in the world around us.

In 2022 – and in the US alone – there were 18 billion-dollar climate disasters: 11 severe storms and three tropical cyclones, plus droughts, wildfires, and flooding. They resulted in 474 deaths, with a total monetary cost of over US$170 billion.

Of course, climate change isn’t any one country’s problem alone.

In 2023, flooding ravaged Zambia in January. An earthquake tore through Turkey in February. Wildfires burned in Algeria throughout July and into August. While a series of tropical cyclones and storms – Cheneso in Madagascar, Freddy in Mozambique, and Kevin in Vanuatu, to name just a few – tore through the southern hemisphere’s coastal and island countries.

Raging forest spring fires. Burning dry grass, reed along lake. Grass is burning in meadow. Ecological catastrophy. Fire and smoke destroy all life. Firefighters extinguish Big fire. Lot of smoke
Wildfires are expected to become much more frequent as climate change takes hold (Adobe)

This is the state of global warming. In the disasters, the devastation – and even the diseases. Climate change can influence the distribution and behaviour of disease-carrying vectors, such as ticks and malaria. It can worsen the quality of our air, leading to higher concentrations of pollutants and allergens. While changes in our climate’s precipitation patterns and flooding can contaminate water sources: increasing the prevalence of cholera and dysentery.

Fortunately, the world is doing something about it. In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed at the 21st UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) in the French capital.

It’s an international treaty that requires all countries to cut back their greenhouse gas emissions – even those that haven’t joined or signed the Paris Climate Agreement. This has set the stage for global collaboration, as well as acknowledging the ongoing climate emergency (the first step, of course, to fixing it).

The Paris Agreement’s central goal? To limit global warming to well below 2 degrees – and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

Every year, the COP provides an opportunity from countries all over the world to come together to review, negotiate, and debate international goals surrounding climate change.

The next COP will take place in Dubai throughout November and December.

In summary

If you’re looking to up sticks and move to a new part of the world – one with progressive climate policies, high levels of climate readiness, low climate-change vulnerability scores, plus geographic and cultural conditions favourable to withstanding the climate crisis – you can’t do much better than these eight countries:

  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Finland
  • Denmark
  • Iceland
  • The Netherlands

These countries all score highly in the ND-GAIN and CCPI rankings, and are established heavy-hitters in the fight to stop (and eventually reverse) climate change. Given their locations – all the above countries are distributed towards the poles, rather than the centre of, the earth – they’re also well geographically poised to withstand climate change.

But, more broadly – and taking climate change out of the equation for a brief moment – they’re all, quite simply, lovely places to live. Staggeringly, all of the above countries feature in the top 10 of the World Happiness Report’s list of the happiest countries on Earth. These countries demonstrate high levels of equality and benevolence, of social support, mutual care for one another’s wellbeing, and pervasive, profound altruism.

This suggests, perhaps, that caring for the people around you and the planet go hand in hand. Do one, and it enables, engenders, and empowers the other.

And that’s good for everyone!

Frequently asked questions about climate change

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) ranks 185 countries on both their readiness for the progressing climate crisis, as well as the factors that make these countries more or less vulnerable to climate change’s range of negative effects.

The countries with the lowest vulnerability scores and the highest readiness scores will be the ones less affected by climate change: including Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Iceland, New Zealand, Germany, the UK, Austria, and Australia.

Conversely, the countries with the highest vulnerability scores and the lowest readiness scores will struggle. Topping this list of the countries set to me most affected by climate change are Chad, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Liberia, and Mali. Invariably, these nations tend to be among the world’s poorest, as well as the ones situated close to the Equator – countries that are already among the planet’s hottest, and that only stand to get hotter.

When choosing a climate-resilient country, consider both the country’s readiness and vulnerability to climate change – the ND-GAIN provides a good measure of this. The other two key factors to consider are a country’s climate performance and its geographical location.

A country’s climate performance is important because it measures the willingness of that country to recognise, adapt to, and mitigate climate change. These factors are vital to a country’s overall climate resilience because, without a coherent stance or strategy on the climate crisis, a country will struggle to deal with it.


The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) measures the climate protection performance of the 60 countries responsible for over 92 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The highest ranking countries on the CCPI are Denmark, Sweden, Chile, Morocco, India, Estonia, Norway, the UK, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Malta.

Geographic location contributes to picking a climate-resilient country, too. Research has demonstrated that the prospects of a country’s economy and agriculture are strongly linked it its proximity to the Equator – with the general rule of thumb being that the further away a country is from the Equator, the brighter its climate future looks.

Rising sea levels have a wide-ranging array of impacts on island nations and coastal regions.

These effects include:

  • Erosion and coastal flooding: Higher sea levels intensify the impact of storm surges, leading to the heightened erosion of beaches, shorelines, and coastal bluffs. This threatens beachside homes and businesses, as well as vital infrastructure like roads.
  • Saltwater intrusion: Rising sea levels can cause saltwater to invade freshwater sources – compromising supplies of safe drinking water and affecting agriculture.
  • Displacement of people: With some islands gradually becoming uninhabitable, internal and cross-border migration will increase – creating political and economic challenges.
  • Loss of land and habitats: The ceding of low-lying coastal land to the ocean can destroy valuable ecosystems – including mangroves, wetlands, and coral reefs – that provide habitats for wildlife, and act as natural barriers against storm surges.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), the planet’s temperature (land and ocean combined) has increased, on average, at a rate of 0.08 degrees every decade since 1880. That said, this rate of increase in the last 42 years has been more than double that speed – averaging 0.18 degrees per decade since 1981.

As for the Earth’s temperature, there’s a 93 per cent chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will be the warmest to date.

While the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere – 417.2 parts per million in 2022 – is the highest in 400 million years, and projected to get higher.

Rob Binns


Rob is an experienced writer and editor, with a wide range of experience in many topics, including renewable energy and appliances, home security, and business software. He has written for Eco Experts, Home Business, Expert Market, Payments Journal, and Yahoo! Finance. . 

Rob has a passion for smart home technology, online privacy, as well as the environment and renewables, which leads him to the Independent Advisor where he writes about related topics, including cyber security, VPNs, and solar power.