Climate change will make you poorer, says a new report

CALIFORNIA  -   Record-breaking heat waves, severe floods and acute wildfires, exacerbated by climate change, carry a colossal price tag: an approximately 19% reduction in global income over just the next 26 years, a new study published Wednesday found. That financial gut punch won’t just affect big governments and corporations. According to the United Nations, the world is heading toward a gain of nearly 3 degrees of global warming in the next century, even with current climate policies and goals and researchers say individuals could bear the economic burden. The researchers in Wednesday’s study, published in Nature, said financial pain in the short-term is inevitable, even if governments ramp up their efforts to tackle the crisis now. “These impacts are unavoidable in the sense that they are indistinguishable across different future emission scenarios until 2049,” two of the study’s researchers from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Maximilian Kotz and Leonie Wenz, told CNN via email. However, they say immediate actions to reduce climate change could stem some losses in the longer term. Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor and environmental researcher at Stanford University, said the economic damage from climate change will take different shapes. Not only can extreme weather events result in costly repairs to damaged property, but elevated temperatures can also impact agriculture, labour productivity, and even cognitive ability in some cases. While discourse about the cost of climate change often refers to potentially expensive mitigation efforts like curbing oil and gas use or technology to pull carbon pollution out of the air, investing in greener technology, the study argued that short-term financial damage wrought by climate change already outweighs the cost of trying to solve the crisis. “These impacts are unavoidable in the sense that they are indistinguishable across different future emission scenarios until 2049,” two of the study’s researchers from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Maximilian Kotz and Leonie Wenz, told CNN via email. However, they say immediate actions to reduce climate change could stem some losses in the longer term. Researchers estimated it would cost the global economy $6 trillion by 2050 to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement, the international agreement among nearly 200 nations to tackle climate change compared to the study’s estimated $38 trillion economic damage due to climate change. “Adaptation could offer ways to reduce these damages,” the researchers Kotz and Wenz said. Bernardo Bastien, a researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, said that adaptation strategies, which are approaches designed not to reduce climate change, but to respond by limiting its negative effects, could help save money on a longer time horizon. Bastien gave an example: utility companies in the state of California that have shut down the electrical grid to prevent wildfires. “When you turn off electrical grids, you’re turning off industry and you’re turning off a lot of households that use electricity for their well-being,” Bastien said. “It’s very costly but very necessary.”

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