Climate Change Could Wreck the Global Economy

By:  Justin Worland

Temperature rise due to climate change may radically damage the global economy and slow growth in the coming decades if nothing is done to slow the pace of warming, according to new research.

The researchers behind the study, published in the journalNature, found that temperature change due to unmitigated global warming will leave global GDP per capita 23% lower in 2100 than it would be without any warming. “We’re basically throwing away money by not addressing the issue,” said Marshall Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford University. “We see our study as providing an estimate of the benefits of reducing emissions.”

The economic effects of climate change may be even worse than this study makes them sounds. The research relies on historical data from countries around the world on how temperature increase has affected productivity. This means the study does not account for the economic impact of sea level rise, storms or any of the other expected effects of climate change beyond simple warming. “Sea level rise, increased storm intensity…if you think those things are going to worsen the effects of climate change, then our estimates would be an underestimate of the potential impacts, which is sort of terrifying,” said Burke.

This study is far from the first to suggest that climate change will slow economic growth. Big business has been especially keen on highlighting the potential damage. A Citigroup reportreleased last month found that minimizing temperature rises to 2.7ºF (1.5ºC) could minimize global GDP loss by $50 trillion compared to a rise of 8.1ºF (4.5ºC) in the coming decades.

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