Climate Change

Climate change has worsened global economic inequality

Temperature changes have enriched cool countries like Norway and Sweden, while dragging down economic growth in warm countries such as India and Nigeria

 
Last Updated: Tuesday 23 April 2019

A new Stanford University study shows global warming has increased economic inequality since the 1960s. Temperature changes caused by climate change have enriched cool countries like Norway and Sweden, while dragging down economic growth in warm countries such as India and Nigeria.

According to the study, Canada and Norway witnessed per capita growth of more than 30 per cent due to global warming; but on the other hand, India’s and Sudan’s economies have become over 30 per cent smaller than what it would have been if there was no global warming.

Researchers analysed 50 years’ data for temperature and gross domestic products for 165 countries to estimate effects of temperature fluctuations on economic growth. According to the researchers, crop yield and people’s health are better when it’s neither too hot nor too cold.

This means that in cold countries, a little bit of warming can help. The opposite is true for places that are hot. Countries with high historical emissions are among those that have enjoyed the highest per capita GDP and fastest economic growth since the 1960s. But on the other hand, global warming reduced per capita income in the poorest countries by 17-30 per cent.

The researchers claim that climate change has brought few of the largest economies to the perfect temperature for economic output, while some smaller economies are taking the hit. However, a large amount of warming in the future will push the big economies further and further away from the temperature optimum, changing the whole economic scenario again.

So, even though the impacts of temperature may seem small from year to year, they can yield dramatic gains or losses over the next 30 to 50 years. The study emphasises the importance of increasing sustainable energy access for economic development in poorer countries.

 

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