The world has been impoverished by trillions of dollars because of climate change

Two days before COP28 in Dubai, a study published by the University of Delaware reminds us that climate change has a cost. Every year, the global economy loses trillions of dollars. Not surprisingly, the world's poorest countries bear the brunt of this burden.

A coal-fired power plant in western France in Cordemais Lavau-sur-Loire on January 11, 2022 (illustrative image). AFP - LOIC VENANCE

By: Agnieszka Kumor


Read More

The figures revealed by the study carried out by the University of Delaware in the United States take into account the direct consequences of climate change on agriculture, on energy, but also on the productivity of countries or on investments. In 2022, 6.3% of the world's gross domestic product was lost. That's $1.500 trillion in wealth.

Vulnerable countries most at risk

There is clearly an "uneven distribution of impacts, which are concentrated in low-income countries and in tropical regions, which are generally more populous and less well endowed in terms of GDP," the authors of the study explain. Thus, Southeast Asia and Southern Africa are particularly affected with GDP losses of up to 14% and 11% respectively. Conversely, some developed countries, particularly in Northern Europe, have seen their GDP increase.

But this could soon be reversed, warn the report's authors. While developing countries are the first victims of this crisis, climate change spares no one. The floods that affected part of northern France in November confirm this.

A special loss and damage fund

The warming of the atmosphere is largely caused by industrialized countries (also known as "the countries of the North"), in particular because of their energy production and consumption. The situation varies from country to country, but the majority of these countries still rely heavily on either fossil fuels or nuclear power. COP28 participants will need to keep this in mind when discussing funds to help poor countries cope with climate change.

At the end of COP27, the countries of the South succeeded in obtaining the creation of a new compensation mechanism. This special loss and damage fund provides compensation for countries most affected by floods, droughts and other climatic disasters. Pledges have reached more than $230 million. However, the UN estimates the needs of poor countries in this crisis at more than $300 billion per year by 2030. We are very far from that. More financial support, including from the private sector, will need to be mobilized for developing countries. And then, despite the creation of this special fund, the heart of the problem, namely emissions from the North and countries such as China or the United States, is still not resolved.

Read alsoCOP28 in Dubai: a climate conference in a petro-monarchy, how is it possible?

NewsletterGet all the latest international news straight to your inbox

Subscribe now

Keep up to date with all the latest international news by downloading the RFI app


Most read



Guinea: Claude Pivi, the mystical soldier turned public enemy number one



New releases between Israel and Hamas, truce extension envisaged



Israel-Hamas truce extended by two days, 11 hostages freed including three Frenchmen