Climate change will cripple economies regardless of wealth

Published: August 22, 2019


NEW YORK: Climate change will damage the economies of countries whether they are rich or poor, hot or cold by the year 2100, economists said in a new report, dispelling the notion that impoverished, warm countries will suffer the most on a warming planet.

Researchers who examined data from 174 countries over 50 years found that persistent temperature changes above or below a country’s historical norm adversely affected economic growth, regardless of how warm a country is.

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The United States could see a 10% loss in gross domestic product (GDP) without significant policy change. “In the UK we had the hottest day (ever) recorded a few days ago and infrastructure came to a halt,” Cambridge University professor of economics Dr. Kamiar Mohaddes told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday.

“Trains aren’t running, people aren’t coping, and therefore productivity and economic growth falls.”

Research has often focused on short-term devastation to poor, warm countries, but the report suggested that wealth and cooler temperatures are no protection from climate change’s economic toll if major policy changes are not adopted.

In a “business as usual” scenario where climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically lowered, the average global temperatures will increase by four degrees Celsius (7.2F) by 2100.

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That would bring more than a 7% loss in world GDP per capita, said the study published on Monday by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit economic research organisation.

The 2015 Paris Agreement, a global pact to fight climate change agreed to by nearly 200 countries, aims to keep the Earth’s temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius (3.6F), striving for 1.5 degrees (2.7F).

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2019.

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