Climate inaction would cost the world hundreds of trillions of dollars by 2100

Climate inaction would cost the world hundreds of trillions of dollars by 2100

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The main objective in the fight against climate change is to prevent that, before the end of the century, the global average temperature increases by 1.5 to 2ºC compared to pre-industrial levels.

One of the agreed measures to achieve this is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the presentation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which should be increasingly ambitious.

However, with current emission reduction data, the 1.5 ºC limit will be reached between 2030 and 2052, according to the latest Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For experts, efforts with a substantial economic investment are necessary to close the gap of growing emissions. Otherwise, inaction will lead to greater economic losses.

Climate change can lead to a global catastrophe, therefore, if countries do not improve their actions to meet climate goals, it will cause damage that will cause significant economic losses and affect future economic development"Biying Yu, a researcher at the Energy and Environmental Policy Research Center of the Beijing Institute of Technology, in China, tells SINC.

In a study, published in the journalNature Communications, Yu, together with an international team of scientists from China, the USA and Sweden, present an analysis on the possible economic losses produced by “climate damage not avoided”. According to the work, if countries could not implement their current NDCs, everyone would lose a profit worth between 149.78 and 791.98 trillion dollars until 2100.

In other words, the world's failure to meet climate goals would cause the benefits to fade.”, Says the co-author. In an immediate way, to limit the increase in temperatures and reduce emissions, countries will have to assume a cost, so that in the first stage the net income of nations would be negative. But the benefits would be realized in the long term if they manage to reach the goal of 1.5 or 2 ºC with more ambitious NDCs than the current ones.

Many countries and regions may now refuse to scale up their climate actions and choose to ignore the long-term climate damage that will occur. This will be a serious obstacle to achieving the objectives”, Assures SINC Yu.

A global cooperation strategy

In this way, the group of scientists proposes a self-preservation strategy for 134 countries through which they are provided information on the direct benefits that they would obtain or lose by not acting in the face of the climate emergency or by not doing it effectively with respect to the limit of 1.5 or 2 ºC.

Thus, based on the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by each nation, the initial investment for the G20 economies would be between 16.38 and 103.53 trillion dollars.

In the case of the United States, this investment would be higher than the average of the G20 economies: between 5.41 and 33.27 trillion dollars. The same was the case with Canada and Australia. According to the researchers, these three countries would not achieve a balance between the initial costs of the climate effort and the investment until the end of the century.

We help countries to make a decision for self-preservation, to readjust their objectives and promote a global climate governance process”, Says the Chinese researcher. This long-term economic picture could allow countries to improve their climate efforts and actions.

But to adopt this strategy, the study shows that countries must recognize the severity of the climate crisis and bet onlow carbon technologies. In addition, they emphasize that the effort to reduce emissions requires cooperation between all countries so that the most vulnerable can also opt for the self-preservation strategy.


Yi-Ming Wei et al. "Self-preservation strategy for approaching global warming targets in the post-Paris Agreement era"Nature Communications April 14, 2020.

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