Inequality of climate change

Research in this area examines the unequal impact of climate change on nations at different developmental stages.

Run-down part of city in Vietnam at risk of rising sea level
Coastal cities in lower-income countries are at the most risk of sea level rise (Photo: Jordan Opel, Unsplash)

Our focus

We study how climate change is making extreme weather events more likely or more intense, with a particular focus on the inequality of climate change.

Heat extremes and inequality

Our research shows that heat extremes do not increase evenly everywhere. Rather, they are becoming much more frequent more quickly for countries nearer the equator—mainly poorer nations. Importantly, this disparity in exposure between the global rich and poor will only worsen as we emit more CO2 into the atmosphere.


Read more about heat extremes and inequality in these publications:

Drought in New Zealand

In 2016, Luke Harrington created the first comprehensive attribution study of a New Zealand drought (the 2012/13 event), which has informed subsequent Treasury estimates of the cost of climate change from worsening drought impacts.

Luke is now looking at better ways to understand and quantify changes in both extreme heat stress and drought over the next several decades, as well as their health and economic impacts.

Future impacts

We recognise that the future impacts of a warming world need to be interpreted in the context not only of where people live now, but also of where people will live in the future.

Most importantly, we need to recognise three things. First, that the capacity to respond to climate change impacts will be fundamentally lower in less wealthy countries and regions. Second, that existing socio-economic inequalities will not remain static in the future. And third, that this matters when considering how to adapt to a warmer world.


For more information about research into the inequality of climate change, contact Dr Luke Harrington.

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Luke Harrington