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New Study Predicts Climate Change Will Cost The World $38 Trillion A Year By 2049

A sunset seen from the road in Warm Springs, Oregon.
Source: Rammohangr/Wikimedia

A new study published in the journal Nature predicts that the consequences of climate change will reduce the global future income by 19% over the next 25 years. This economic strain will hit nearly the entire world, from the most developed to the poorest areas.

“Our analysis shows that climate change will cause massive economic damages within the next 25 years in almost all countries around the world, also in highly-developed ones such as Germany and the U.S., with a projected median income reduction of 11% each and France with 13%,” says study co-author Leonie Wenz.

To make these economic calculations the researchers combined multiple empirical models for mapping out climate trends with the state-of-the-art climate simulation model CMIP6. The study used climate simulations that compare a baseline prediction with no climate change with the expected global growth in GDP. 

Income in many places will still grow compared to today, but the study asserts that the growth will not be as much as without climate change.

One aspect the study specifically examined was this inequality for specific damage wrought by temperature increases for different regions. According to the study, poorer areas of the world will be hit the hardest, despite being the ones least responsible for contributing to climate impacts.

“The countries least responsible for climate change, are predicted to suffer income loss that is 60% greater than the higher-income countries and 40% greater than higher-emission countries. They are also the ones with the least resources to adapt to its impacts,” said Anders Leverman, one of the study’s co-authors.

Regions most disproportionately affected are the ones whose agricultural yields and productivity of labor will be most hindered by rising temperatures.

“Strong income reductions are projected for the majority of regions, including North America and Europe, with South Asia and Africa being most strongly affected. These are caused by the impact of climate change on various aspects that are relevant for economic growth such as agricultural yields, labour productivity or infrastructure,” lead author Max Kotz said.

These damages the study examined are attributed to predicted changes in rainfall and temperature variability in these regions. It also accounted for the impacts of continuing extreme weather events like storms and wildfires.

Wenz asserts that the damages the world is experiencing in the present are a result of past emissions, which means that if we want to curtail damage in the future, we need to change our emission policy now.

”These near-term damages are a result of our past emissions. We will need more adaptation efforts if we want to avoid at least some of them. And we have to cut down our emissions drastically and immediately – if not, economic losses will become even bigger in the second half of the century, amounting to up to 60% on global average by 2100,” Wenz said.

Kotz says that while there are a variety of consequences that a shift in the global climate will have, the main damage is being caused by temperature increases.

“Those temperature increases drive the most damages in the future because they’re really the most unprecedented compared to what we’ve experienced historically,” Kotz said.

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