For quite some time, we have been aware that climate change is happening and it has had an impact on our planet. A new study by Dartmouth University has done something no other study has done, it attached tangible values to the economic impact of climate change.
To no one’s surprise, the numbers are astronomically high.
One of the main takeaways of the data was that the world’s five largest emitters, China, the United States, Russia, India, and Brazil, are responsible for $6 trillion in cumulative losses between 1990 and 2015, which is 11% of the global GDP during that period.
One thing to keep in mind is that the authors of the report did not include the EU as a whole, but instead listed the countries separately. If it was included, it would be among the top five.
Overall, the report looked at specific events are hardships throughout the world and figured out what each country’s economic responsibility was.
How Did the Report Calculate the Economic Impact of Climate Change?
There is an undeniable link between greenhouse gas emissions and temperature increases. The report used this link to determine how the higher temperatures each region experienced impacted them economically.
As you might have guessed, this does not impact all countries equally. In some cases, there are actually benefits for some nations.
Some of the primary ways the study looked at damages were through lowering agricultural yields, reducing labor productivity, and decreasing industrial output. Not to mention how natural disasters like flooding and tropical storms are linked to higher temperatures.
What the report does not consider is the impact these emissions have on air quality.
Why Make the Report?
One of the biggest problems the world is facing is its own response to climate change. For years, bigger emitters have used the excuse that it is a global effort to lower emissions. Essentially, it’s giving the biggest emitters a way to deny responsibility.
This report seeks to end that by clearly demonstrating the economic impact each nation is responsible for. By extension, nations can no longer say that it is a group effort when it is clear each nation has its own share of responsibility.
Will Countries Actually Pay For Damages?
This is simply a study of the economic impact of greenhouse gas emissions. It will not result in any nation paying for damages.
It is possible that some legal cases may arise and try to use this study as evidence. However, a country cannot be sued in a court in another nation. Thus, it is likely to go nowhere. Furthermore, the nations that would be seeking damages would be poorer nations.
They simply lack the resources necessary to combat wealthier nations in extended court battles. Not to mention they lack any real way to collect from these nations if they decide not to pay.
However, this report may still be useful as members of the UN debate the Global Climate Finance Fund. Essentially, this is a fund where richer nations will provide funds for developing nations to help mitigate the damages of climate change.
This report clearly demonstrates what each nation is responsible for, thus it could definitely be used by poorer nations to demand more.
Overall, the study will probably not lead to any nation paying for the damages listed in this report.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.