Countermeasures needed: up to 11 percent: climate change is causing a sharp contraction of the German economy

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 17:06

Not to mention the consequences for people and nature: according to researchers, the climate crisis also threatens economic prosperity. Other measures would be significantly less costly to the economy.

According to a new estimate, the global economy risks shrinking by about a fifth by mid-century as a result of global warming, even if emissions of climate-damaging gases are drastically reduced in the future. Otherwise, much greater economic damage can be expected than $38 trillion a year, as researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) calculated in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The authors write that these damages would be six times greater than the estimated costs of climate protection measures to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees.

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Germany was not even the most affected

Depending on the region, the expected damage varies greatly. The poorest countries and those least responsible for climate change will be the most affected, according to the study. For Germany, as for the US, researchers predict that the economy will contract by 11 percent by mid-century, compared to a scenario without climate impacts. The information refers to a scenario in which it is possible to embark on a path that can limit global warming to below two degrees by the end of the century. According to the United Nations, current climate protection plans are still not enough.

“Large income losses are forecast in most regions, including North America and Europe, with South Asia and Africa hardest hit,” wrote Maximilian Kotz, one of the study's authors. “These losses are caused by a wide variety of economically relevant effects of climate change, such as consequences for agricultural yields, labor productivity or infrastructure. Damage caused by storms or wildfires is not included, but could increase even plus the amount of damage.”

For the calculation, the researchers evaluated data from the last 40 years from more than 1,600 regions on how extreme weather events have influenced economic growth. Based on climate models, they calculated how these are likely to have an economic impact over the next 26 years.

“…otherwise the losses will be even greater”

Researcher Leonie Wenz noted that the expected damage was a result of greenhouse gases that had already been emitted. To cushion this, adjustment measures are needed. “In addition, we must reduce our CO2 emissions drastically and immediately, otherwise economic losses will be even greater in the second half of the century and will reach a global average of up to 60 percent by the end of the century,” Wenz said. .

The current calculations of the Potsdam team are surprisingly close to the forecasts of the so-called Stern Report, which the economist Nicholas Stern calculated almost 20 years ago on behalf of the British Government: climate change threatens the international economy with a drop of around 20 percent . in the study presented in 2006. It was then concluded that climate protection was expensive, but the lack of climate protection was even more expensive.