Climate change leaves huge dent on GDP of Commonwealth nations

Seagulls roost on rocks by the sea covered with a plague of 'sea snot', a thick slimy layer of organic matter on the shores of Istanbul, Turkey. Reuters/Umit Bektas/File Photo

New Delhi: A study published by international development charity Christian Aid on Thursday highlighted the devastating economic impact climate change will inflict on Commonwealth countries.

The study, 'The climate cost to the Commonwealth', was led by Marina Andrijevic, an economist at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna.

By 2050 and 2100, the economies of these countries are still expected to be higher than they are today. It highlights the amount of damage caused to their GDP by climate change, compared to a scenario where climate change didn't take place.

Estimates based on peer-reviewed methodology by Burke et al show that on current climate policies, where global temperature rise reaches around 2.7 C by the end of the century, Commonwealth countries can expect to suffer an average GDP hit of minus 19 per cent by 2050 and of minus 63 per cent by 2100.

Even if countries keep global temperature rise to 1.5C as set out in the Paris Agreement, Commonwealth nations face a mean GDP reduction of minus 13 per cent by 2050 and minus 32 per cent by 2100.

According to Christian Aid, this underlines the need to get the new Loss and Damage Fund up and running urgently with rich countries providing their fair share of finance, based on the polluter pays principle, even if countries succeed in keeping global heating under 1.5C.

The country facing the worst projected GDP hit is Nigeria, which last year was struck by flooding in West Africa which killed more than 600 people and displaced 1.3 million.

Christian Aid's study shows that under current climate policies, Nigeria faces a GDP reduction of minus 26 per cent by 2050 and minus 75 per cent by 2100 compared to if there was no climate change. Even in a 1.5C scenario, Nigeria can expect a GDP blow of minus 18 per cent by 2050 and minus 43 per cent by 2100.

Per person the UK emits 64 times more carbon than fellow Commonwealth nation Malawi. Canada emits more than 179 times more and Australia, 188 times.

In fact, the per capita emissions of the Commonwealth's richest four countries (the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand), is 41.1 tons of C02, which is 23 times larger than the 10 least emitting per capita Commonwealth countries combined (1.78 tons).

The study estimates the economic damage caused by climate change on GDP for 40 of the 56 Commonwealth countries where data is available. The methodology used here doesn't factor in adaptation measures, so greater investment in adaptation could potentially alleviate some of the damage.

The derisory amounts that richer governments are committing to adaptation support for the poorest is one of the issues that climate campaigners are demanding is addressed at COP28 in Dubai.

The countries most affected are also the ones with very low capacities to adapt, as outlined in the ND GAIN index of vulnerability and adaptive capacity so it is unreasonable to expect that they will be able to reduce these damages very substantially.

In her foreword to the report, Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate activist, said: aceThe Commonwealth, as a group of nations, captures the severe inequality of climate change. Within its ranks are some of the world's biggest polluters per capita -- Australia with its coal industry, Canada with its tar sands. The average citizen of those countries is responsible for as much carbon as 100 people from my country, Uganda."

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