A study released on Friday found that heatwaves fueled by human-induced climate change have cost the global economy billions of dollars over the past 30 years, with the world’s poorest countries – and least responsible of the climate emergency – bearing a disproportionate share of the burden. .
“The lowest income regions in the world are the ones that suffer the most from these extreme heat events.”
The study, published in Scientists progress, came to three key conclusions. First, “increased intensity of extreme heat significantly decreases economic growth in relatively warm tropical regions and affects it weakly in relatively cold mid-latitude regions.” Second, “anthropogenic climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of these economically consequential extremes of heat.” Therefore – and thirdly – “the effects of climate change on extreme heat have amplified underlying inequalities, disproportionately harming low-income, low-emitting regions, with major emitters bearing primary responsibility for billions of dollars of losses in the tropics”.
According to the publication:
Increased human-caused heat waves have depressed economic output the most in the poor tropical regions least culpable of warming. Cumulative losses from 1992 to 2013 due to anthropogenic extreme heat are likely between $5 trillion and $29.3 trillion globally. Losses amount to 6.7% of gross domestic product per capita per year for regions in the bottom income decile, but only 1.5% for regions in the top income decile. Our results have the potential to inform adaptation investments and demonstrate how global inequality is both a cause and a consequence of the unequal burden of climate change.
“Accelerating adaptation measures during the hottest time of each year would bring economic benefits now,” said the study’s first author, Christopher Callahan, a doctoral student in geography at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, New Hampshire. a statement. “The amount of money spent on adaptation measures should not be assessed solely on the price of these measures, but against the cost of doing nothing. Our research identifies a substantial price for doing nothing.”
The study’s lead author and assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth, Justin Mankin, said: “No one has shown an independent fingerprint for the extreme heat and the intensity of the impact of that heat on the economic growth. The true costs of climate change are much higher than what we have calculated so far. . Our work shows that no place is well suited to our current climate.”
“The lowest income regions in the world are the ones that suffer the most from these extreme heat events,” Mankin added. “As climate change increases the magnitude of extreme heat, it is reasonable to expect these costs to continue to accumulate.”
The new study follows research predicting that by the end of the century, dangerous heat caused by the worsening climate emergency will hit much of the Earth at least three times more often than it does today.