Climate change reinforces inequalities - even in developed countries

Added: 06-03-2020

Climate change has widened the economic inequality gap and has resulted in the displacement of millions of people in lower-income countries. However wealthier countries are also facing climate change risks as they will struggle to find sufficient sources for cooling and heating their homes. One key mitigation for displacement is proper relocation planning with special attention paid to poor countries.

poverty inequality alleviate biodiversity economically disadvantaged people relief disasters environmental justice climate change extreme weather global warming

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 5 minutes IRENE BANOS RUIZ 10-25-2019
Type Reading Time
article 5 minutes
Author Date
irene banos ruiz 2020-06-03 00:00:00 UTC
Image by hermann traub from pixabay high water 392707 1920
Key Takeaways
  • Global warming has increased the economic inequality between rich and poor countries due to extreme weather conditions happening in poor countries without sufficient resources to deal with the impact. 
  • Extreme weather conditions, intensified by global warming, have resulted in the displacement of millions of people from both poor economies as well as self-sufficient rural areas. 
  • Wealthy countries are not immune to climate risks as they are bound to struggle with keeping their homes cool in the summer and hot in winter, among other negative impacts. 
  • A key mitigation strategy to combat climate change caused community displacement is for people to acquire the necessary relocation skills before an extreme weather event occurs; in lower-income countries, this preparation may require the assistance of the international community.


Multiple research studies have found that climate change has significantly contributed to widening the economic gap between poor and rich countries noticeably by the fact that most countries experiencing extreme weather conditions (intensified by climate change) have low or lower-middle income status and lack the resources to deal with the impact. Extreme weather conditions erase any previous improvement efforts, displacing people and leaving them without sufficient food, water and shelter. According to the Displacement Monitoring Centre, in 2019, 7 million people were displaced due to weather-related disasters and earthquakes. 

While poor countries are most affected by climate change, the rest of the world is not immune to climate risks. Communities that previously had sufficient resources through farming and fishing have been deeply impacted by rising sea levels; the people are forced to migrate and become unskilled labor in urban areas. Hot areas such as Arizona will require greater energy for cooling systems resulting in increased consumer costs, and urban areas such as Madrid with fewer resources will struggle with heating homes in winter and cooling them down in summer. 

Women-led households are also at a greater risk due to reasons such as: 
  • Women receiving, on average, lower pensions compared to men, 
  • Single women disproportionately living below the poverty line, 
  • When forced, parents are more likely to pull girls out of school before boys. 

Any attempt to close the poverty gap without proper planning can do more harm than good - for example if better heating systems are provided to households, it will increase energy consumption further contributing to warming. An important advance preparation is acquiring relocation skills - countries have to accurately plan for relocation as this, among other preventative planning measures (e.g.: building seawalls, early warning systems), are key to reducing the economic inequality gap. Lower-income countries must be given special attention by the international community to develop relocation plans.