Allowing global temperatures to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial averages could cost the global economy $12 trillion by 2050, or 10 percent of the entire global GDP over that period, according to a new report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of four dozen highly vulnerable countries. Countries party to the 2015 Paris Agreement agreed to limit the increase in global temperature to 2.0 degrees Celsius, while a 1.5-degree limit was put forward as an aspirational goal. The report illustrates the many benefits of actually adhering to the 1.5-degree limit versus the 2.0-degree limit, including preserving at least 10 percent more of the world’s coral reefs; reducing wheat yield losses by 10 to 15 percent in developing regions by 2050; and substantially lowering the risk of inundation to the world’s lowest-lying nations and territories. By taking advantage of cutting-edge renewable technologies, investing in the low-carbon sector, and facilitating the diffusion of renewables between developing countries, countries can achieve both the 1.5-degree goal, and help avoid devastating losses from the worst scenarios.
[This text originally appeared on New Security Beat, the blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (Wilson Center).]