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Global climate change case studies

The whole world is affected by climate change - read our case studies and learn the impact of climate change on two countries: Bangladesh and the UK.


Bangladesh is at risk from climate change for a number of reasons. It is a low-lying country, with most of the country being below 10 metres above sea-level. Much of the south of the country is at sea level and is prone to flooding.

Bangladesh is a poverty stricken country and cannot afford to develop effective defences to reduce the risks it faces due to climate change and global warming in particular. The UK government has pledged £75 million to help with their infrastructure.

Threats to Bangladesh come from; drought in the north, which reduces access to clean drinking water and water for irrigation of crops; flooding in the south, which is increasing in frequency and severity, has affected food and clean water supply; rising sea levels are encroaching inland and there is more brackish water (mixed sea/freshwater) and contamination of water supplies in addition to erosion of low-lying land. Media footage shows people living on the banks of the channels on the Ganges delta literally watching the land in front of their houses disappearing in great chunks into the channel and being washed away.

Scientists have estimated that is sea-level rises occur as currently predicted that more than 3 million people could be affected and by the end of this century Bangladesh could lose a quarter of the land it had in 2000. With a coastline of 580 km, Bangladesh is severely under threat.

Responses to the threat of climate change in Bangladesh is very difficult due to their economic situation. The country relies on other countries for aid and investment. Greater reliance is placed on the global response to the problem of sea-level change as this is out Bangladesh’s control. Soft approaches such as relocating people from high risk areas is not really an option as there is no possibility of relocating to higher ground.


The greatest threat to the UK from climate change is from flooding caused by global warming. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events pose a significant threat in the future. Scientists estimate that up to 3.6 million people are at risk from flooding in the next 30 years. There are other problems that would occur such as death by heatstroke, varying reliability of electricity supplies as demand increases to cope with air-conditioning in summer and heating in winter. Some positive effects such as greater food production are also predicted, enabled by longer growing seasons. There are economic and social effects such as increased insurance premiums, in some examples following the flooding of the Somerset Levels, householders simply could not get insurance for less than £10,000 per annum. As stress levels increase and financial pressure bears down on families, incidence of mental health problems such as depression are predicted to increase.

The North Sea cod stocks will move further north as the temperature rises in the water affecting the fishing industry economically as well as the availability and price of fish for the UK. Disruption to transport is already happening and will only increase as roads melt and become unsafe and train lines buckle in the heat; the economic cost of this is significant as disruption to business occurs.

The UK has responded to climate change on local, regional, national and global scales. Inclusion in agreements such as the Kyoto agreement and EU emission trading show real action and commitment to the problem. Examples of CO2 reduction schemes abound at a local authority level, underwritten by central government. Huge investment in 20 wind farms has made the UK the sixth largest producer of wind generated power in the world. In 2000 the UK Climate Change Programme consisted of strategies to improve energy use (business and domestic); cut emissions from transport; introduce better energy efficiency to houses by changing building regulations and lead by example through the public sector setting a good example. These strategies have been important in the UK being successful in stabilising its contribution to global warming and fundamental to their success has been education and making the population aware of doing their bit to contribute to reducing climate change.