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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 22:03 GMT
Climate change 'worse' for poor nations
Maldives
Island nations may be affected by rising sea levels
Poor countries which bear least responsibility for global warming may end up suffering most from the problem, a new study says.

The study, published to coincide with an international climate change meeting, which opened on Monday in the Netherlands, says temperatures will rise more in some countries than others.

Most strongly affected will be Canada and Russia, the world's biggest countries, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Britain's University of East Anglia said.

Turcoman tribesman in Central Asia
Central Asia may face high temperature rises
Temperatures there will rise at least six degrees Celsius (12.6F) over the next century.

But central Asian and sub-Saharan countries will also be hit hard.

These countries lack the resources to respond to climate change, and are arguably the least to blame for the global warming.

They have burned just a tiny fraction of the fossil fuels - which produce the so-called "greenhouse gases" - consumed in the United States, Europe and Japan.

The countries where tempreatures will rise least - 3C (6.3 F) or less - are Argentina, Chile, Ireland, New Zealand, UK and Uruguay, the study said.

Poor nations vulnerable

Central Asian countries, stretching from Kazakhstan to Saudi Arabia, will see big temperature rises of at least 5C (10.5 F) by the year 2100, the study said.

Desert scene
Deserts may become drier with global warming
Sub-Saharan Africa will see rises in temperatures ranging 4 to 5.4C (8.4 to11.3 F) according to the country.

The Tyndall Centre assessed vulnerability by looking at national wealth with predicted temperature rises.

On this basis, it found that the most vulnerable countries were among the poorest, such as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia and North Korea.

Island nations affected

Temperature rises would not be the only end-result of global warming, which scientists say is caused by greenhouse gases lingering in the earth's atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat.

Coral reefs, agrictultural crops, and forests could all be harmed, scientists say, and deserts could become even drier.

Two people caught in floods
Flooding could also increase
Critically, ice caps could melt causing sea levels to rise, resulting in low-lying countries such as small island nations including Samoa, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Mauritius disappearing beneath the waves.

Delegates at the United Nations conference on global warming in The Hague heard on Monday that these island nations could face financial and environmental ruin because of the problem.

"We are now suffering and expect to suffer in the most direct way the full range of climate impacts - increased cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and coral bleaching among them," Samoa's UN Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade said.

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See also:

13 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Climate talks search for progress
11 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
'Massive' pollution cuts needed
06 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Climate treaty 'robs the poor'
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