Climate change can wipe off 84% of Sudan GDP, warns report

The damage will reduce but remain significant even if global temperature rise is limited to 1.5°C

Published: Thursday 11 November 2021

The gross domestic product (GDP) of 65 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are vulnerable to climate change may reduce by 19.6 per cent by 2050 and 63.9 per cent by 2100 with current climate policies, according to a new report

The damage to the economy of these countries will reduce but remain significant even if global temperature rise at the end of the century is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) over pre-industrial levels. In this scenario, their GDP will hit 13.1 per cent by 2050 and 33.1 per cent by 2100. 

The report by Christian Aid, a non-governmental organisation, was released November 8, 2021, at the ongoing 26th Conference of Parties (CoP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow.

The economy of African countries will be harshly impacted, according to the report. Sudan topped this list with 83.9 per cent loss of GDP by 2100 under current policies. Even with a Paris Agreement-aligned 1.5°C rise, it will see a climate-induced GDP hit of 51.6 per cent. 

In 2020, Sudan’s GDP per capita was under $600 (Rs 44,658) per person — a large share of the population living in extreme income poverty of under $2 a day.

Sudan is already reeling under the impacts of climate change. In September 2021, heavy rains and flash floods affected over 314,000 people in 14 out of 18 states across the country.  

Eight of the top 10 most affected countries are in Africa and the other two in South America. All the 10 countries — Sudan, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Suriname, Guyana, Guinea — face GDP damage of over 70 per cent by 2100 under our current climate policy trajectory and of 40 per cent even if the world keeps to 1.5 degree Celsius.

The World Meteorological Organization warned that sub-Saharan Africa could see a 3 per cent drop in GDP by 2050 as a result of climate change.  

Sub-Saharan Africa has lost over $520 million in direct economic damages annually as a result of climate change since the beginning of this century, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated

Underlying injustice of climate change

These vulnerable countries are the smallest contributors to climate change but will continue to suffer in the future. The average per capita carbon dioxide emissions of the top 10 most-impacted countries is 0.45 tonnes. An average American, on the other hand, is responsible for more CO2 (16.1 tonnes per capita) than 36 people from these 10 countries.

Many of these are low-income countries, which struggle to provide basic public services. 

All eight of the African countries in the top 10 list of most-affected countries spend under $80 per person on healthcare per year. So, further economic losses will make it even harder to attain decent public services which enable the fulfillment of human rights. 

In this report, estimates presented are based on an econometric model built on the  relationship  between  GDP  growth  and  temperature, without accounting  for  the  possible  impacts of extreme events.

The report does not take into account adaptation measures, which could potentially alleviate some of the damage. 

A majority of the countries from the Least Developed Countries, Alliance of Small Island States and Climate Vulnerable Forum blocs were covered in this analysis. Some countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cook Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Palestine, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu were not included due to a lack of data.

The report estimated the impacts of climate change on economic performance using a two-step modeling procedure: 

  1. A historical relationship between GDP growth and climatic variables 
  2. Extending this relationship to different temperature pathways over the 21st century to estimate how GDP growth might be affected by climate change

These staggering economic losses underscore an urgent need for a mechanism to address loss and damage.  

The predictions imply that the ability of countries in the Global South to sustainably develop is seriously jeopardised and policy choices we make right now are crucial for preventing further damage, said Marina Andrijevic from Humboldt University, who coordinated the study.

It’s possible that these numbers are conservative estimates if extreme weather events continue to cause substantial economic harm themselves in the coming decades, she added.

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