Global warming not only has a negative impact on the climate, but also increases economic inequality worldwide. This is the main conclusion of a study from Stanford University published in April this year in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)’. Its lead author, climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, claims that most The poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming. At the same time, most rich countries are richer than they would have been, adds Noah in a communication.
According to the study, which analyzes 50 years of annual measurements of temperature and gross domestic product (GDP) in 165 countries, global warming has aggravated the economic gap between rich and poor countries since the 1960s. Temperature changes caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have enriched cold countries like Norway and Sweden, and slowed the growth of hot countries like India and Nigeria< /strong>. The authors showed that crops are more productive, people are healthier, and we are more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold. This means that in cold countries, a little warming up can help, while the opposite is true in places that are already warm. Therefore, and according to this study, it could be affirmed that climate change causes an unequal society and accentuates poverty.
Although economic inequality between countries has decreased in recent decades, the gap would have narrowed more rapidly without global warming. Temperature impacts may seem small from year to year, but they can generate gains or losses over time. Imagine a savings account, where small differences in the interest rate make large differences in the account balance in 30 or 50 years. For example, and after accumulating decades of small effects from warming, India’s economy is now 31% smaller than it would have been in the absence of global warming.
Countries that emit the most emissions enjoy on average 10% higher GDP per capita compared to what they would have in a world without warming, while the lowest emitters have fallen by 25 %. The more these latter countries get hotter, the more resistance there will be to their development. The problem is that, historically, rapid economic development has been driven by fossil fuels. From now on, said development will have to be carried out with environmental sustainability as a basis, for which it will be necessary to incentivize subsidies and investments in renewable energies and develop clean technologies. Developing countries cannot be required to base their economic growth solely on clean energy, since these still have a high associated cost. Therefore, it is inevitable that developed countries invest and contribute financially in developing countries to accelerate this transition. There will come a time, not too many years from today, when renewable energies will be unanimously considered by both companies and governments as the only (economically profitable) path to follow to mitigate climate change while protecting the well-being of people. people.
Julen González Redín
PhD in Sustainable Development