The Strategist

UN: Global warming will evaporate $ 2 trillion from the world's economy

07/19/2016 - 15:51

By 2030, the world economy will lose more than $ 2 trillion per year due to lost productivity. The global warming is changing the climate so much that certain types of work will inevitably become impossible because of too high ambient temperature. Such conclusions were made in a report by the United Nations University’s Malaysia-based International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), which was published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health.

Ash Photoholic	 via flickr
Ash Photoholic via flickr
The papers were presented at a forum organized by the United Nations University and the United Nations Development Programme in Kuala Lumpur.  Professor Tord Kjellstrom’s study shows that increase in the air temperature caused by global warming will bring the world economy an annual loss of $ 2 trillion by the year 2030. The global warming will impact labor productivity, as many people simply are not be able to work in the scorching heat.

Effects of the extreme heat will primarily be felt in agriculture and manufacturing works involving heavy manual labor. "In the sweltering heat, one cannot work with the same intensity as at normal temperature, - explains Professor Kjellstrom. – Gradually, labor-intensive industries will slow down the pace of work and hours of rest will grow." Since the manual hard work is used more often in underdeveloped countries, they will become even poorer having their performance reduced. The developed countries, in turn, will have to increase cost of electricity due to more frequent use of air conditioners and fans.

According to the study, the rising temperatures will affect the economy of 43 countries; Africa and Southeast Asia above all. Even now, the latter have working hours reduced by 15-20% due to the extreme heat. Professor’s estimates suggest that by 2030, the heat will reduce GDP Ghana and Nigeria by more than 6%; Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia - by 6%; Vietnam and Cambodia - by a little less than 6%. Annual loss of both India and China, may reach $ 450 billion. The study also estimates possible damage caused to the economies of various countries by other effects of global warming (cold snaps, floods, landslides, drought, forest fires and so on). The study notes that labor productivity in countries such as Russia, Norway and Sweden may decline due to lowering of winter temperatures. 

In an interview with The Independent, Professor Kjellstrom says that rise in global temperatures of up to 2050 is inevitable. However, according to him, we still can change the way of the temperature’s fluctuations over this period: all that is needed is to reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere. However, he noted that some countries prefer to prepare for climate change, rather than work on preventing it. "I think that prevention of negative consequences, that is, reducing the effects of climate change, is not discussed fully enough, and only few people are working on it. This is extremely important and needs to be addressed immediately, not in 40 years ", - Professor said.

Last year, 195 UN member states adopted a new global climate agreement to replace the obsolete Kyoto Protocol. The agreement aims to keep the global warming within the 2° C boundary until the end of the century. It also obliges countries to create long-term low-carbon development strategies, and to plan climate change adaptation. In addition, the agreement features a new economic mechanism – now, every country can make its contribution.