Climate Protests At G7 as New Study Shows Warming Will Cause Major Economic Hit

Climate Protests at G7 Meeting Photo Montage: AP /Getty/Reuters via Metro UK

Last Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study that found the negative impact of climate change on the U.S. economy if we do nothing to curb our greenhouse gas emissions would result in 10.5% lower real income by 2100 as a result of losses due to extreme weather events and declines in worker productivity, and the global economy would lose 7.2%. 

  • On the other hand, if countries live up to their commitments in the Paris Agreement, the impact would be limited to 1% of per capita Gross Domestic Product, according to The Washington Post.

And this news comes at a time when a Washington Post analysis of government temperature records for the last century shows that some parts of the U.S. are already experiencing warming temperatures of more than 2 degrees on average — which is a kind of tipping point for more dramatic localized changes.

Why This Matters:   The U.S. is no longer leading the world on climate — instead it is holding it back. As the G7 meets in France with climate protesters filling the streets nearby yesterday, President Trump wants to talk exclusively about the economy and trade but the other leaders attending see climate change as inextricably linked to economic issues.  The Post reported that officials from the French government speaking anonymously said that the leaders “couldn’t avoid discussing issues such as climate change at a summit like the G-7,” but worried about setting off the President and creating diplomatic tensions. Talk about an elephant in the room.  How can world leaders take on economic issues without discussing climate change? If it were not for the U.S., it would be a major topic of conversation at the meeting. Heather Conley, an expert on US relations with Europe, says that the G7 is now becoming the G6 plus one – and this is particularly true when it comes to climate change, on which our government refuses to engage.  

Climate Change Will Cause Lower Standard of Living Globally

The negative economic impacts of warming will not be experienced just by poor and less developed nations, or even those that are the warmest, according to the new study, but rather will be widespread.

  • The researchers crunched the economic data of 174 countries from 1964 to 2014, and concluded that “per capita economic output growth is adversely affected by prolonged changes in temperature, both above or below its historical norms.”
  • According to the authors, countries like Canada (or states like Alaska for that matter) that are warming at a greater rate will experience more impacts — “It is not only the level of temperature that affects economic activity, but also its persistent above-norm changes.”

The US Already Seeing Some Extremes

Alaska’s warming is well-documented, but the surprise in the Post’s U.S. temperature analysis is that Northeastern states like Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut are experiencing much warmer winters, which is already impacting the region, particularly its farmers and other weather-dependent businesses like ski resorts.

  • The excellent Washington Post analysis of “more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.”
  • “Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.”

To Go Deeper:  Read The Post’s excellent story on where and how extreme climate change is impacting America by four of the best climate reporters out there by clicking here.

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