Climate change caused by global warming is freezing the world economy and already leading to the deaths of millions every year, a report commissioned by 20 of the world's most vulnerable countries said Wednesday
"Climate Vulnerability Monitor: a guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet" says global warming will not only lead to environmental catastrophe, but is choking the international economy.
Key findings include estimates that carbon-intensive economies and associated climate change are responsible for five million deaths a year, 90 percent of them related to air pollution.
"Failure to act on climate change already costs the world economy 1.6 percent of global GDP amounting to USD 1.2 trillion in forgone prosperity a year," said the report, produced by the DARA research center and released at the Asia Society in New York.
In addition, "rapidly escalating temperatures and carbon-related pollution will double costs to 3.2 percent of world GDP by 2030."
According to the report, "unprecedented harm" is being inflicted on humanity. However, tackling climate change's causes would bring "significant economic benefits for world, major economies and poor nations alike," the report said.
Former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres said at the presentation that there is a "fantastic" opportunity in steering away from carbon-intensive economies.
"There's a tremendous amount of opportunity in terms of development around the world as we reinvent everything," he said.
"This is where the future is."
Anything less, he said, is "in some ways similar to rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic."
The report says that while poorer countries face the steepest economic damage in terms of GDP losses, big countries will not be spared.
"In less than 20 years China will incur the greatest share of all losses at over usd 1.2 trillion. The US economy will be held back by more two per cent of GDP; India, over five per cent of its GDP," the report said.
It said these projected losses "dwarf the modest costs" of addressing climate change. The climate forum's chairman, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said weather pattern changes would be especially devastating for her crowded country.
"One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 percent productivity loss in farming," she said at the New York launch of the report. "For us, it means losing about four million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about USD 2.5 billion.
That is about two per cent of our GDP.