A new study of 135 countries estimates that climate change could see 4% of global annual economic output lost by 2050 and hit many poorer parts of the world disproportionately hard.
The study was conducted by ratings firm S&P Global, which gives countries credit scores based on the health of their economies. They published a report recently looking at the likely impact of rising sea levels, and more regular heat waves, droughts and storms.
According to a report published in the Wire, countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s exposure to wildfires, floods, major storms and also water shortages mean South Asia has 10-18% of GDP at risk, roughly three times that of North America and 10-times more than the least-affected region, Europe. “To different degrees, this is an issue for the world,” said S&P’s top government credit analyst, Roberto Sifon-Arevalo in the report. “One thing that really jumps out is the need for international support for many of these (poorer) parts of the world,” he added.
Regions such as Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, all face sizable losses too. East Asia and Pacific countries face similar levels of exposure as Sub-Saharan Africa, but mainly because of storms and floods rather than heat waves and drought.
The losses to economies due to climate change have already begun. According to insurance firm Swiss Re over the past 10 years, storms, wildfires and floods alone have caused losses of around 0.3% of GDP per year globally.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also calculates that, on average, a weather, climate, or water related disaster has occurred somewhere in the world every day for the last 50 years, causing 115 daily deaths and over $202 million in daily losses.
Sifon-Arevalo also claimed that some countries have already suffered credit ratings downgrades due to extreme weather, such as some Caribbean Islands after major hurricanes.