EU Global Warming Damages Are Seen Reaching $259 Billion

Climate damages in the European Union from global warming could rise to at least 190 billion euros ($259 billion) a year in the 2071-2100 period, a study by the 28-nation bloc found.

Net welfare loss could be 1.8 percent of current gross domestic production if no further action is taken and global temperatures rise 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit), the EU’s Joint Research Centre, the science service of the European Commission, wrote in an online statement today.

The center analyzed the impact of climate change in nine categories including agriculture, human health and drought. The cost of premature mortality was put at 120 billion euros in the study, followed by impacts on coasts of 42 billion euros and agriculture with 18 billion euros in damages.

“No action is clearly the most expensive solution of all,” Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, was cited as saying in the statement.

The study underestimates the climate damages to Europe because the costs of ecosystem and biodiversity losses were left out, abrupt climate change or tipping points were ignored as well as indirect effects due to climate change in the rest of the world, the researchers wrote.

Expected impacts on factors such as agricultural yields, river floods and infrastructure losses were included in an economic model to assess the implications for household welfare, the JRC said. Damages from climate change were calculated based on 2005-euro values and using today’s economy and population, the researchers wrote.

Weather Extremes

In the studied scenario of a 3.5 degree Celsius increase, EU crop yields would fall 11 percent, mainly due to a 20 percent slide in southern Europe, the researchers wrote. A simulation of 2 degrees Celsius warming found agriculture yields would slip about 2 percent, according to the study.

Some weather-related extremes could roughly double in frequency, heat-related deaths could double to about 200,000 a year, the costs of river-flood damage annually could reach 11 billion euros and about 8,000 square kilometers (3,089 square miles) of forest could burn in southern Europe, the study found.

Southern Europe and central southern Europe would bear 70 percent of the losses, while northern Europe would account for 1 percent and the U.K. and Ireland for 5 percent, according to the study.

In a scenario of strong greenhouse-gas reduction policies with global warming limited to 2 degrees Celsius, the cost to the EU of climate change would be reduced to 128 billion euros, with 23,000 fewer annual heat-related deaths, the JRC wrote.

The 2-degree world scenario showed 34 billion euros less in human health damages, 16 billion euros lower agricultural losses and an 8 billion-euro reduction in damaging effects on coastal areas, according to the study.

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