UN draft climate report: economic impacts

by by Marlowe Hood, Kelly Macnamara, Patrick Galey / AFP

Climate change is already taking a toll on the global economy, and forecasts predict worse to come by mid-century, according to a draft report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), seen exclusively by AFP. 

Here are some of the report’s findings on economic impacts:


Climate-boosted extreme weather events — cyclones, droughts, flooding — have already sapped both short- and long-term economic growth, especially in developing countries.

– Average global economic damage due to floods over the last several decades has averaged $50 billion (42 billion euros) to $350 billion annually, depending on methods of calculation

– In a worst-case scenario, if Earth’s temperature rises four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, global GDP could decline 10 to 23 percent compared to a world without warming

– Expected damages for 136 major coastal cities were calculated at between $1.6 trillion and $3.2 trillion by 2050 in a worst-case scenario without adaptation

– Storm surges enhanced by sea level rise threaten more than 40 percent of coastal nuclear power plants worldwide

– Nearly 14 percent of the world’s sandy beaches face severe erosion by 2050 under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario 


Heat and scarce rain are adding obstacles to Africa’s development path.

– Per capita GDP for Africa would have been nearly 14 percent higher over the period 1991-2010 without manmade global warming

– A decline in rainfall from 1960 to 2000 — attributed in part to climate change — widened the GDP gap between Africa and the rest of the developing world by 15 to 40 percent 

– Adaptation costs in Africa are projected to increase tens of billions of dollars per year if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius

– Capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than two degrees would increase per capita GDP five percent across nearly all African countries by mid-century, and up to 20 percent by 2100


Rising sea levels are threatening to cause havoc across Asia-Pacific, from Bangladesh to China to Australia.

– In South Asia, water-related impacts of climate change are expected to reduce GDP up to 2.5 percent by 2050 if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius

– Asia could experience direct losses of nearly $170 billion with half-a-metre of sea level rise, and damages will be concentrated in China. The IPCC projects sea level rise up to 1.1 metres by 2100

– In Bangladesh, one-third of power plants may need to be relocated by 2030 due to sea-level rise

– Climate-induced loss in Australian agricultural and labour productivity could exceed $14 billion by 2030 and $159 billion by 2050 


Melting Arctic ice and other climate calamities loom large over Russia, Europe and the United States.

– Damages from multiple climate hazards to transport, energy, industry and social infrastructure in Europe could triple by 2030, and increase tenfold by 2100 

– In Russia, nearly 20 percent of critical infrastructure will be damaged by degraded permafrost by 2050

– Under a worst-case emissions scenario, hundreds of billions of dollars in annual economic damages in the United States are anticipated by 2090

– By mid-century, regardless of emissions scenario, permafrost thaw across the Arctic region is projected to damage nearly 70 percent of infrastructure