The European economy would be €190
billion smaller at the end of the century, equivalent to
1.8 per cent of current annual GDP, if nothing more is done
to tackle climate change. So says the European Commission's Joint
Research Centre (JRC).
But the damage caused by 3.5 degrees of warming
above pre-industrial temperatures - the level of warming expected
by the 2080s under business as usual - would be uneven. Some
sectors and some parts of Europe would face less severe impacts
than others. We've taken a look at the distribution of predicted
The JRC scientists have used the latest models
and climate data to assess what the likely impacts of rising
temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and sea level rise will be
on different parts of the economy.
This new study used separate models to estimate
impacts on agriculture, tourism, health, coastal damage, river
flooding, forest fires, transport and energy use. Then it assigned
a monetary value to those impacts in a single economic model to
work out the overall cost of climate damages.
To get an idea of how big or small the number
is, the costs are expressed as a percentage of GDP - the market
value of all recognised goods and services produced in a year. But
the price tag put on climate change doesn't include
Some aspects aren't well enough understood yet, such as the
consequences of abrupt climate change, or are difficult to assign a
monetary value to - such as the loss of natural ecosystems and the
services they provide like clean air, clean water or carbon
Accounting for these extra factors is likely to
mean higher rather than lower costs, according to a
report earlier this year by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.
On the other hand, estimates of how much climate change could
cost us also don't generally include how adaptation measures, such
as changing farming practices or reducing water use, could make us
more resilient against damages.
The JRC's study also ignores the effects of rising populations
and growing economies. These effects would tend to increase the
costs of warming too, it says, by increasing the number and value
of assets exposed to climate change damage.
There's lots of work going on to try to account for
these things, but for the time being it's important just to
recognise they're largely missing from