New report on the cost of climate change to the UK economy

Many of the climate change impacts that the UK faces have the potential to create serious socioeconomic consequences. Ben Cooke writes on The Times website about a new report that provide improved estimates of the likely economic damages from climate change to the UK, highlighting where the greatest risks and need for adaptation are. The LSE report, referred to in the article, is available here. Have similar studies been undertaken in your country?


Economy to count cost of climate change

The effects of climate change could knock at least 7.4 per cent off UK GDP by the end of the century, a study has suggested, unless countries make great efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers at the London School of Economics arrived at that figure by forecasting the cost of nine climate impacts, including increased drought, flooding and damage to farms and ecosystems. They did so by collating other research on those impacts.

They found that a sea-level rise could affect 5.4 million people in the UK by the end of the century, causing £68 billion of damages, although “the greatest risk to the UK under current policies is from catastrophic disruption to the global economic system”.

Bob Ward, a co-author of the report, said that “there is a major risk to the UK from climate impacts elsewhere, which we will feel through, say, changes in food prices or food shortages”. He compared the 7.4 per cent hit to Britain’s GDP to the 9.7 per cent hit suffered in the pandemic in 2020, “but here we’re talking about permanent loss. You don’t rebound from climate change.”

The study says that if countries do not strengthen their climate policies, the climate will warm by 3.9C by 2100. This is more than the 2.7C of warming that the Climate Action Tracker, an independent analysis, says present policies will lead to. James Rising, the paper’s lead author, said the discrepancy was because of his team’s more pessimistic assumptions about the trajectory of emissions later in the century.

The paper’s authors also found that if Britain were to reach net zero by 2050, and the world by 2075, then warming could be limited to 2.1C and the cost of climate change to the country could be limited to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2100.

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