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Climate Change to Shrink Global GDP by Almost a Fifth by 2050, Study Warns

In a stark warning, researchers revealed on Wednesday that climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions already present in the atmosphere will lead to a substantial contraction of global GDP by 2050, amounting to nearly US$38 trillion, or almost a fifth of the total.

Published in the journal Nature, the study underscores the urgent need for aggressive carbon emission reduction efforts to mitigate the economic fallout. Even under the most aggressive emission reduction scenarios, the researchers caution that significant economic losses are inevitable.

The study predicts that economic repercussions from climate change could escalate to tens of trillions of dollars annually by 2100 if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. With Earth’s average surface temperature already surpassing 1.2 °C above the pre-industrial benchmark, the impacts are already evident in intensified heatwaves, droughts, floods, and tropical storms.

The cornerstone goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, limiting global warming below 2 °C, requires annual investments that are a fraction of the projected damages. Lead author Max Kotz, an expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), emphasizes that adhering to this threshold could mitigate regional income losses significantly.

The study’s findings highlight the disproportionate impact on developing nations, especially those in tropical regions, which are least equipped to adapt to climate change impacts. These countries, already grappling with economic challenges exacerbated by climate damages, are forecasted to bear income losses 60 percent higher than higher-income and higher-emission countries.

The projections, based on extensive economic and climate data from 1,600 regions, reveal that both wealthy and developing nations will face substantial economic downturns. For instance, Germany, the United States, and France could witness income contractions by 11 percent, 13 percent, and 13 percent, respectively, by 2050.

Moreover, the study’s methodology, which accounts for temperature fluctuations within each year and includes the economic impact of extreme weather events, suggests that previous estimates of climate change damages may have underestimated the true extent.

While the study’s conclusions paint a dire picture, climate economists emphasize that the costs of mitigating climate change are far outweighed by the costs of inaction. With global GDP projected to double by 2050 absent climate impacts after 2020, the urgency of immediate action to curb emissions cannot be overstated.

As nations grapple with the economic implications of climate change, the study serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to prioritize climate action and invest in resilience measures to safeguard global prosperity and well-being.

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Reference: https://www.sciencealert.com/global-income-set-to-shrink-by-one-fifth-by-2050-under-climate-change

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