Climate Change is Driving Global GDP Loss

Back in 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern and his team produced the first comprehensive look at the economic impacts of climate change.  The Stern Review was a serious clarion call to policy makers that climate change was a threat where nearly everyone feels it most:  in the pocketbook.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has also considered these impacts from the time of their first assessment report in 1990 through to their report this year on extreme events and disasters.

A new report out today, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, says that “that climate change has already held back global development and inaction is a leading global cause of death.”  The indefatigable environment correspondent for the Guardian, Fiona Harvey, reports here that although developing economies are the most vulnerable, “…major economies will also take a hit, as extremes of weather and the associated damage – droughts, floods and more severe storms – could wipe 2% of the GDP of the US by 2030, while similar effects could cost China $1.2tr by the same date.”

The Advisory Panel Members and the Peer Review Committee for this study are a very high-level group of policy makers, scientists and economists.  Their conclusions are startling:

  • Climate change and a carbon-intensive economy are considered a leading global cause of death today, responsible for five million deaths annually – 400,000 due to hunger and communicable diseases aggravated by climate change and 4.5 million carbon economy deaths due mainly to air pollution
  • Failure to act on climate change already costs the world economy 1.6% of global GDP amounting to 1.2 trillion dollars in lost prosperity a year
  • Rapidly escalating temperatures and carbon-related pollution will double costs to 3.2% of world GDP by 2030
  • Losses for lower-income countries are already extreme, escalating to 11% of GDP on average for Least Developed Countries by 2030
  • Major economies are heavily hit: in less than 20 years, China will incur the greatest share of all losses at over 1.2 trillion dollars; the US economy will be held back by more than 2% of GDP; India, over 5% of its GDP

This second edition of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor looks at 34 indicators in 4 impact areas for both Climate Change and the Carbon Economy.  Vivid infographics highlight the findings.  All in all, there is a ton of useful information here, all of which is easily accessible at the report website.  A world map enables you to break down the salient facts for specific countries.  The report is informative along the entire range of indicators.  Here, for example, is what the report has to say about the health impacts of climate change, broken down into five categories.


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