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POTSDAM, Germany: According to scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), climate change is going to cost the world economy US$38 trillion a year annually to 2050.

Based on empirical data from more than 1,600 regions worldwide over the past 40 years, the projected economic loss is six times higher than the mitigation costs needed to limit global warming to two degrees.

“Our analysis shows that climate change will cause massive economic damages within the next 25 years in almost all countries around the world [including] Germany, France and the United States,” says PIK scientist study lead Leonie Wenz. “These near-term damages are a result of our past emissions. We will need more adaptation efforts if we want to avoid at least some of them.”

Wenz notes without immediate drastic action, economic losses in the second half of the century will average 60 percent worldwide by 2100 with countries least responsible for, and least able to adapt to, climate change suffering income loss 60 percent greater than higher-income countries.

“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.”


Anders Levermann, head of Research Department Complexity Science and a co-author of the study adds:
“Staying on the path we are currently on, will lead to catastrophic consequences. The temperature of the planet can only be stabilized if we stop burning oil, gas and coal.”

The latest World Meteorological Organization (WMO) global climate report says last year was the warmest year on record, with the global average near-surface temperature at 1.45 °Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline.

On an average day in 2023, nearly one third of the global ocean was gripped by a marine heatwave, harming vital ecosystems and food systems. Towards the end of 2023, over 90 percent of the ocean had experienced heatwave conditions at some point during the year.

“Never have we been so close – albeit on a temporary basis at the moment – to the 1.5° C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” comments Secretary-General Celeste Saulo. “The WMO community is sounding the Red Alert to the world.

“The climate crisis is THE defining challenge that humanity faces and is closely intertwined with the inequality crisis – as witnessed by growing food insecurity and population displacement, and biodiversity loss.”
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