Dartmouth study links past US greenhouse gas emissions to global economic damage



The United States and China, the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, are each responsible for more than $1.8 trillion in lost global income from 1990 to 2014, according to a new study that links the emissions of each country to the economic impacts of climate change in others. The report may strengthen the scientific basis for legal claims for losses related to global warming.

Dartmouth College study, published in the journal Climatic Change, linked a country’s heat-trapping gas emissions to losses and gains in gross domestic product for 143 countries for which data is available. He revealed that just five of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases caused $6 trillion in global economic losses due to warming caused by their emissions from 1990 to 2014. The economic losses caused by Russia, the India and Brazil exceed $500 billion during this period for each of these countries. three issuing countries.

“This research provides an answer to the question of whether there is a scientific basis for climate liability claims. The answer is yes,” Christopher Callahan, Dartmouth PhD candidate and study author, said in a statement. “We quantified each nation’s culpability for historical temperature-related income changes in all other countries.”

The United States, for example, inflicted $34 billion in economic losses on the Philippines between 1990 and 2014, taking into account the emissions generated by the American territory.

The researchers said that US emissions produced a change of 0.054 degrees Celsius in global average temperatures during this period. This resulted in a 0.04 degree Celsius change in average temperature in Indonesia over the same period, a change attributable solely to emissions from the United States.

“This change may seem small, but since Indonesia is a hot and tropical country, temperature increases are quite bad for its economy,” Callahan said. “Every 1 degree increase in its local temperature reduces its economic growth by 1.6 percentage points.”

Putting these figures together, the United States reduced Indonesia’s economic growth by 0.065 percentage points each year during the same period. And, Callahan said, because Indonesia is a populous country with a large economy, even those small reductions in economic growth added up to a large absolute number: a loss of $124 billion over the period.

The issue of responsibility for climate change is the subject of an increasing number of lawsuits around the world.

Cities and states have sued global oil company ExxonMobil for failing to disclose climate damage risks to investors. Various environmental groups have sued Shell in the Netherlands. And a Peruvian farmer is suing RWE, alleging that Germany’s largest utility, which scientists say emitted 0.47% of the world’s cumulative industrial carbon and methane emissions between 1751 and 2010, should pay its share for protect a small town in Peru. mountains.

Meanwhile, many developing countries have sought to make industrialized countries pay for “loss and damage” from decades of emissions.

“For the first time, we were able to show clear and statistically significant links between specific country emissions and historical economic losses suffered by other countries,” Callahan said. “It’s about one country’s guilt towards another country, not about the effect of global warming on a country.”

White House climate envoy John F. Kerry told the close of the Glasgow climate summit that he understood the push for loss and damage payment, but there was no no spending mechanism.

The Dartmouth team says their study “discredits the idea that climate mitigation is simply a ‘collective action problem,’ where no single country acting alone can have an effect on the impacts of global warming,” said the Dartmouth team. said Justin Mankin, assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth and lead researcher on the study.

Other studies have relied on one or two parts of the three-step approach adopted by the Dartmouth team.

“Scientists have already described the historical economic effects of global warming, showing that climate change has benefited cooler, affluent countries and harmed warmer, less affluent countries,” Callahan said. But, he said, they did not quantify the culpability of individual senders. Another recent study quantified the effects each country’s emissions may have on temperatures in other countries, but did not quantify the economic effects of these temperature changes.

“Our work can be seen as uniting these two disparate types of work into a single integrated framework,” he said.

Sign up to receive the latest news on climate change, energy and the environment, delivered every Thursday


Comments are closed.