More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.
As global average temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects on the planet, such as melting ice caps, extreme weather, drought and rising sea levels, will threaten populations and livelihoods, said the report conducted by humanitarian organisation DARA.
It calculated that five million deaths occur each year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies, and that toll would likely rise to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of fossil fuel use continue.
More than 90% of those deaths will occur in developing countries, said the report that calculated the human and economic impact of climate change on 184 countries in 2010 and 2030. It was commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 20 developing countries threatened by climate change.
"A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade," the report said.
Trash clogs up a polluted canal at the edge of Beijing. China said that two-thirds of its cities currently fail to meet new air-quality standards introduced this week that are based on the pollutants most harmful to health. AFP photo/File
It said the effects of climate change had lowered global output by 1.6 percent of world GDP, or by about $1.2 trillion a year, and losses could double to 3.2% of global GDP by 2030 if global temperatures are allowed to rise, surpassing 10 percent before 2100.
It estimated the cost of moving the world to a low-carbon economy at about 0.5% of GDP this decade.
COUNTING THE COST
British economist Nicholas Stern told Reuters earlier this year investment equivalent to 2% of global GDP was needed to limit, prevent and adapt to climate change. His report on the economics of climate change in 2006 said an average global temperature rise of 2-3 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years could reduce global consumption per head by up to 20%.
A cloud of smoke goes out from a chimney in a winter sky in Seclin, northern France. AFP photo/File
Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Almost 200 nations agreed in 2010 to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2C (3.6 Fahrenheit) to avoid dangerous impacts from climate change.
But climate scientists have warned that the chance of limiting the rise to below 2C is getting smaller as global greenhouse gas emissions rise due to burning fossil fuels.
The world's poorest nations are the most vulnerable as they face increased risk of drought, water shortages, crop failure, poverty and disease. On average, they could see an 11% loss in GDP by 2030 due to climate change, DARA said.
"One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4 million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion. That is about 2 percent of our GDP," Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in response to the report.
"Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4% of GDP."
Even the biggest and most rapidly developing economies will not escape unscathed. The United States and China could see a 2.1 percent reduction in their respective GDPs by 2030, while India could experience a more than 5% loss.
The full report is available at: http://daraint.org/
More on climate change
Drought in US a chance to re-imagine environment
We should be bothered because of the deep impact the United States has on our lives and lifestyles, both directly and as a result of production. Instead of wanting to live the American Dream of the 1990s and 2000s, what if there was a low carbon footprint, less consumptive reality instead? Read more
Palm trees once grew on Antarctica
Antarctica had a subtropical climate, suggest scientists who have pulled up proof that palm trees once grew there. Study of pollen and spores and the remains of tiny creatures have given a climatic picture of the early Eocene period, about 53 million years ago. Read more
This photo clicked in 2001 shows the massive B-15A iceberg that stretched for 150 kms across McMurdo Sound after it broke off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antartica. AFP Photo
Humans entirely responsible for Earth’s land warming over 250 years
The Earth’s land has warmed by 1.5C over the past 250 years and “humans are almost entirely the cause”, a new study has suggested.For the study, the team of scientists based at the University of California, Berkeley, gathered and merged a collection of 14.4m land temperature observations from 44,455 sites across the world dating back to 1753. Read more
Largest sea turtles threatened by climate change
The 21st century could be the last for eastern Pacific populations of leatherback turtles, as rising heat at the beach continue to threaten the species, suggests a new study. Deaths of turtle eggs and hatchlings in nests buried at hotter, drier beaches are the leading projected cause of the potential climate-related decline. Read more
‘Greenland ice sheet may vanish faster than thought’
The Greenland ice sheet appears more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought, as a small increase in temperature could melt it completely and lead to a catastrophic sea level rise, claims a new study. The ice sheet may lose its ability to grow once global warming reaches 1.6 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Read more
Earth losing 150bn tons of ice annually?
Greenland, Antarctica and global glaciers and ice caps lost roughly 8 times the volume of Lake Erie from 2003-2010, a new study has revealed. According to the study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, earth's glaciers and ice caps outside of the regions of Greenland and Antarctica are shedding roughly 150 billion tons of ice annually. Read more
Penguins have existed on our planet for more than 50 million years but current environmental issues such as climate change and overfishing threaten their survival. AFP photo/File
Key environment problems we face today
Since the world's first big environment conference in 1972, green issues have become woven into the political agenda and into consumer consciousness. But as this snapshot shows, few problems have been resolved and some are worsening fast. Read more
The world in figures
Seven billion today, a doubling since 1950, and set to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050, of which two-thirds will live in cities. The population in poor countries has increased more than fourfold since 1961. Read more