EDITORIAL: Earlier predictions about the effects of climate change are turning out to be so frighteningly true that calculations made now about the not-too-distant future need to be taken very seriously indeed.

That’s why latest research suggesting that climate change caused by CO2 emissions already in the atmosphere will shrink global GDP in 2050 by about $38 trillion, almost a fifth, “no matter how aggressively humanity cuts carbon pollution”, must have sent shivers down spines of leaders across the world.

Looking even further, researchers are calculating that the economic fallout of this change could increase by “tens of trillions of dollars every year by 2010 if the planet were to warm significantly beyond two degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels”.

Currently, with earth’s surface temperature already 1.2C above that benchmark, once abnormal heat waves, droughts and floods have already become the norm in many countries, Pakistan being the perfect example. So, unless a lot of work is put into reversing this trend, the world will need to be a much richer place to be able to spare “tens of trillions” to save the climate by the turn of the century.

There is particularly bad news for poor countries. Those, just like Pakistan, that are least responsible for climate change yet “are predicted to suffer income loss that is 60pc greater than higher income countries and 40pc greater than higher emission countries”. That would imply that they would suffer more than richer countries if the global surface temperature continues to rise and those trillions that will be needed are not easily available, which they most certainly will not be.

Let’s not forget that these counties are not only poor, with their economies already shrinking due to climate damage, but they are also highly indebted. And most of them, like Pakistan, barely have anything left in the budget for human development or public works once they’ve met repayment deadlines; for which, more often than not, they need to take on further debt.

Yet it’s also true that whatever damage they suffer from climate change will affect other countries as well. That is why rich countries, that have the financial muscle and technical knowhow to do the job, must take the lead now, before it is really too late.

Yet, so far, they don’t seem much interested in helping poor countries with either debt relief or climate change. They still haven’t realised, even as these time bombs tick away, that they will not be spared the impact of the detonations when they come.

And eventually everybody will have to pay a whole lot more. As far too many research reports rightly note, annual investment needed to cap global warming below 2C – the cornerstone of the 2015 Paris Agreement – is still a small fraction of the damages that would be avoided. Besides, what is the use of having the ability to conduct extensive research and even quantify the destruction that is just waiting to happen if nobody is going to do anything about it?

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Apr 21, 2024 09:59am
Don't expect developed countries to help us in time of climate change fallout. BR should ask govt for it's data on climate effects on agriculture n people, don't be surprised at their callousness.
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Re=== Apr 22, 2024 09:00pm
Look it is very clear what Pak will do with climate change funds. It is going to be eaten up. The whole climate change show that Pak pu last year was to just get free money. Everyone knows it. OK?
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