Report: Climate change set to cut average income by 19%

London — Climate change will cut the average income of people around the world by one-fifth by 2050, according to a new report published in the journal Nature by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

As many parts of the world experience extreme weather, the global impacts of a changing climate are set to cost $38 trillion a year by the middle of the century, the report warns — a reduction in the world’s average income of some 19%.

The losses are already locked in, independent of future emission choices, the report says.

Maximilian Kotz, co-author of the report, told VOA there is little the world can do to mitigate the impact.

“What we find is that over the next 25 to 30 years, impacts on the economy are consistent across different emissions scenarios, regardless of whether we enter a high-emission or low-emission world,” he said.

Climate change, and especially higher temperatures, have been shown to impact worker productivity, said Kotz.

“That’s then going to be manifest across numerous different industries — although it’s particularly strong, those impacts, when workers are outdoors, so in contexts like manufacturing sectors,” he said. “And then, we also know that impacts on agricultural productivity are very strong from again, particularly high temperatures.”

The research looked at climate and economic data from the past 40 years from more than 1,600 regions across the world and used it to assess future impacts. Those least responsible for global emissions are likely to be worst hit.

“Committed losses are projected for all regions except those at very high latitudes, at which reductions in temperature variability bring benefits. The largest losses are committed at lower latitudes in regions with lower cumulative historical emissions and lower present-day income,” the report said.

The authors conclude that tackling climate change would be far cheaper than putting up with the economic damage and estimate the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be just one-sixth of the $38 trillion impact of climate change by 2050.

The research is likely to underestimate the total economic impact of climate change.

“Important channels such as impacts from heatwaves, sea-level rise, tropical cyclones and tipping points, as well as non-market damages such as those to ecosystems and human health, are not considered in these estimates,” the report said.

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