Damage caused by rising seas, increased storms and other climate-related problems pose ‘a very serious challenge to poverty eradication efforts in the developing world’
By Ian Johnston
Preventing global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius will mean the world’s economy is at least 10 per cent bigger by 2050 than it would be if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gases, according to a new report.
The planet’s average temperature has already risen about 1C in about 130 years, with scientists admitting that restricting this to just 0.5C more will be difficult.
However the report – released by the United Nations Development Programme and a group of 43 developing countries which are highly vulnerable to climate change – argued doing so would be worth it.
As a result, the world’s gross domestic product would fall by $21 trillion by 2050, compared to $33 trillion under a ‘business-as-usual’ approach that allows global warming of 2.5 degrees.
This saving of $12 trillion (about £9.6 trillion) represents about 10 per cent of global GDP.
It would also “substantially” reduce the risk of the flooding of large parts of the world’s lowest lying land, “with the Greenland ice sheet facing irreversible decline most likely around 1.6C of warming”.
All the ice on Greenland would take some time to melt but would raise sea levels by seven metres once completely gone.
Keeping global warming to 1.5 per cent would mean at least 10 per cent of the coral reefs on the planet would survive; any higher and the “virtual disappearance” of this key marine ecosystem would begin.
The report, called Pursuing the 1.5C Limit, said such changes would dramatically affect the world’s economy.
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