UK economy to shrink by 7% based on current climate policies

The climate crisis could shrink the UK economy by more than 7% by the end of the century, unless global efforts to reach net-zero emissions are ramped up, new research has found.


UK economy to shrink by 7% based on current climate policies

Pictured: The Scout Moor Wind Farm is England's second-largest onshore wind array

In a landmark new study by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, it has been revealed that current warming trajectories look set to overshoot the Paris Agreement and deliver a seismic shock to global GDP levels.

The research finds that the climate crisis will deliver “catastrophic disruption to the global economic system” through issues such as agriculture, livestock and fisheries shortages, drought, flooding and coastal damage.

For the UK, these global impacts could deliver a 7.4% reduction to the economy by the end of the century.

Dr James Rising, who led the analysis at the University of Delaware, said: “These estimates provide both a stark warning of the future economic damage to the UK resulting from a lack of climate action, and a comparison between the costs of climate change impacts and the costs of reducing emissions”.

“We estimate that the mitigation costs involved in the UK’s pathway to net-zero by 2050 are unlikely to exceed the equivalent of 2% of GDP over the transition period. Furthermore, climate mitigation policies bring additional benefits, for example by improving health and invigorating of the economy through investment, equivalent to an increase of 6.1% in GDP by the end of this century.”

The research notes that current climate policies look set to deliver a global temperature that is 3.9 Celsius degrees higher than its pre-industrial level by 2100. The impact this could have on the UK’s GDP rises 3.3% by 2050 and 7.4% by 2100.

However, the research notes that reaching net-zero globally by 2075 would limit warming to 2.1C, an impact that would limit the UK’s GDP shrink to 2.4% – a 5% difference.

Reaching net-zero would also provide additional benefits to the UK, including a 2.8% economic boon through green technologies, industries and infrastructure. In a scenario where the UK reaches net-zero by 2050 and then the rest of the world by 2075, there would be a net economic benefit to the UK economy of 9.1%.

Researchers also found that reaching net-zero would reduce the rate of heat-related deaths to 0.9 per 100,000 people, compared to 7.1 deaths per 100,000 under current climate policies.

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