Heat Waves Cost Poor Countries, Exacerbating Inequality | Rare Techy
Heat waves, exacerbated by climate change, have cost the global economy billions of dollars over the past 30 years, a study published Friday found, with poor countries paying the price. at a very high price.
And those fringe economic effects contribute to widening disparities around the world, research shows.
“The cost of extreme heat from climate change is currently disproportionately high in countries and regions least culpable for global warming,” said Dartmouth College Professor Justin Mankin, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Science Advances, told AFP. “And that was a crazy accident.”
“Climate change is playing on the pattern of economic inequality, and is working to increase that inequality,” he said.
Extreme heat events cost the global economy $16 trillion between 1992 and 2013, the study estimated.
But while rich countries have lost 1.5% of their annual GDP per capita due to heat waves, poor countries have lost about 6.7% of their GDP per capita.
The reason for that difference is simple: poorer countries live closer to the tropics and have warmer temperatures. During heat waves, it gets hotter.
The study comes just days before the start of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, where the question of how to pay for countries that are most vulnerable but least responsible for climate change is one of the main topics.
The costs of heat waves come from many factors: impacts on agriculture, pressures on health systems, less productive workers and physical damage to infrastructure, such as melting roads .
The study’s researchers examined the five days of extreme weather for a specific region each year.
“The main idea is to use the difference in temperature, and then distribute it across all these economic regions and see how much variation there is in economic growth” within a region, Mankin explained.
“Then the second part is to say, ‘Well, how did human warming influence the extreme heat?'” he added.
Despite these statistics, the results of the study greatly underestimate the true cost of extreme heat, according to the paper – the study of five days per year does not show an increase in heat events, and all costs are not included.
Previous research on this topic has focused on the costs of heat in specific areas, although scientists say it is important to look at the cost of climate change as a whole.
“You want to know what those costs are, so you have a frame of reference to compare the cost of things,” Mankin said, such as installing central heating or installing air conditioners. to “pay for unemployment.”
“The economic costs of responding to the worst five days of the year are enormous,” he said.
But according to Mankin, the most important response is to reduce carbon emissions to slow global warming in the spring.
“We have to adapt to the climate we have now, and we have to really invest in mitigation,” he said.