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Trillions of dollars in damages each year due to climate change

Even if CO2 emissions were to be drastically cut down starting today, the world economy is already committed to an income reduction of 19% by 2050 due to climate change, a new study published in “Nature” finds. These damages are six times larger than the mitigation costs needed to limit global warming to two degrees. Based on empirical data from more than 1,600 regions worldwide over the past 40 years, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) assessed future impacts of changing climatic conditions on economic growth and their persistence. Overall, global annual damages are estimated to be at 38 trillion dollars, with a likely range of 19–59 trillion dollars in 2050. These damages mainly result from rising temperatures but also from changes in rainfall and temperature variability. Accounting for other weather extremes such as storms or wildfires could further raise them. “Our analysis shows that climate change will cause massive economic damages within the next 25 years in almost all countries around the world, also in highly developed ones such as Germany, France and the United States,” says PIK. We have to cut down our emissions drastically and immediately – if not, economic losses will become even bigger in the second half of the century, amounting to up to 60% on a global average by 2100. This clearly shows that protecting our climate is much cheaper than not doing so, and that is without even considering non-economic impacts such as loss of life or biodiversity.”

Source: The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research press release 17 April 2024,
Kotz, M., Levermann, A. & Wenz, L. The economic commitment of climate change. Nature 628, 551–557 (2024).


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