Arctic melting will cost the global economy £33tn by end of next century, scientists calculate

The costs are the equivalent of more than half of the current output of the global economy

Steve Connor
Monday 21 September 2015 16:22
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Sun glints off columns of smoke rising from the chimneys of a coal power plant in Hohehameln, Germany
Sun glints off columns of smoke rising from the chimneys of a coal power plant in Hohehameln, Germany

The melting of the Arctic permafrost and the subsequent release of carbon dioxide and methane gas into the atmosphere will alone add an extra $43 trillion (£33tn) cost of climate change to the global economy by the end of the next century, scientists have calculated.

This represents a 13 per cent increase on the predicted economic impact of climate change by 2200, up from $326tn to $369tn, according to a study by Cambridge University and the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado.

The researchers point out that the Arctic is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet and the permanent ice on land and under the seabed prevents billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere to exacerbate the greenhouse effect.

Using computer models of the global economy and the predicted increase in carbon dioxide and methane, the researchers estimated the direct economic impact on the gross domestic product of countries, such as the loss of agricultural output and the additional cost of air conditioning.

The predicted $43tn of extra economic damage is equivalent to more than half of the current output of the global economy, the researchers calculate in a a study published in the journal Nature Climate change.

“These results show just how much we need urgent action to slow the melting of the permafrost in order to minimise the scale of the release of greenhouse gases," said co-author Chris Hope of the Cambridge Judge Business School.

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