World to suffer $10 trillion loss by 2050 unless nature is saved: WWF report

However, annual global GDP will be 0.02 % higher by 2050 if conservation of nature is done

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 12 February 2020

The world economy will suffer a total cumulative loss of $10 trillion by 2050 unless humanity reverses destruction of nature, a report released on February 12, 2020, has said.

However, annual global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be 0.02 per cent higher by 2050 if the world adopted a more sustainable model of living, the report said.

Titled Global Futures: Assessing The Global Economic Impacts of Environmental Change To Support Policy-Making, the report has been prepared jointly by the World Wide Fund for Nature, The Global Trade Analysis Project and the Natural Capital Project.

Nature provided humanity with key ‘ecosystem services’, the report noted. These include:

  • Pollination of crops
  • Protection of coasts from flooding and erosion
  • Supply of water
  • Timber production
  • Marine fisheries
  • Carbon storage  

However, the ‘natural assets’ that provided these services — forests, wetlands, coral reefs and fish stocks — were under attack from the globe’s human population in the name of unsustainable economic development, the report said.

Human actions were resulting in climate change, extreme weather and flooding, water shortages, soil erosion and species extinctions, the report said.

Down To Earth had reported extensively on such disasters in 2019 including the heatwave in India and Europe, fires in the Amazon and Australia, floods in various parts of India, extreme water scarcity in Chennai as well as animal extinctions.

The research analysed how the natural assets would change under various future development scenarios and how the consequent changes in ecosystem services, would, in turn, affect the global economy.

Two scenarios were presented by the report. In the first, things would be ‘business-as-usual’.

In such a situation, the report said, reduced supply of the six ecosystem services would lead to a 0.67 per cent drop in the annual global GDP by 2050.

That would be equal to annual loss of $479 billion and total cumulative loss of $9.87 trillion in the period between 2011 (the base year for the study) and 2050.

In the second scenario, if the world adopted a more sustainable model of development and safeguarded biodiverse areas, the annual global GDP would be higher by 0.02 per cent — $11 billion — by 2050, “than in a baseline scenario of no change in ecosystem services, generating an annual net gain of $490 billion per year compared to the business-as-usual scenario”, the report said.

The report called for “transformational change across the world’s economic and financial systems”, so that they “deliver long-term sustainable development and protect and restore nature”.

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