Even 3°C Warming Can’t Stop World Prosperity

The 3°C Scenario: What’s the economic impact of severe global warming?  James Pethokoukis writes at his substack.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Even with an extreme scenario, the world should be richer and more capable in 2050

You may have noticed some concerning climate headlines popping up today in your smartphone notifications:

  • “‘Sounding the alarm’: World on track to breach a critical warming threshold in the next five years” – CNN
  • “Global warming likely to exceed 1.5C within five years, says weather agency” – Financial Times
  • “Global warming set to break key 1.5C limit for first time” – BBC

As the above FT chart neatly shows, the newsy forecast is about breaching the 1.5°C level in a single year, not a permanent increase. That said, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says humanity better get used to 1.5° and higher without a drastic shift away from fossil fuels. Current global policies, according to the IPCC, make it “likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2°C.”

But what if the global heating is more severe than expected? A new analysis by consulting firm Capital Economics looks at a scenario in which the global average temperature rises by more than 3°C from its pre-industrial average and finds that global GDP would still nearly double by 2050.

How could that be possible given all the negative effects predicted by climatologists — which I’m not contesting — such as rising sea levels, more droughts and severe heatwaves, more extreme-weather events such as hurricanes, a loss of biodiversity and ecosystems? From the cautious and meticulous analysis by CE economists David Oxley and Gabriel Ng:

But the key takeaway is that we think global GDP would still nearly double in size between now and mid-century even if the world were to warm by more than we anticipate, largely because developed economies would be affected the least. And even in places where a warmer world would have much bigger impacts on GDP, such as in India and south-east Asia, the physical effects on economic activity would be a headwind to catch-up growth rather than putting economic development in reverse.

(One thing to keep in mind: The firm’s baseline forecast is that the increase in global temperature will be kept just below 2°C thanks to the increasing use of renewable energy sources and other technological improvements, resulting in a ecline in global greenhouse40 percent d gas emissions by 2050. This level of warming is already baked into its economic forecast.)

Caveat:  Decarbonizing Our Energy Platform is the Way to Stop Prosperity

In assembling this forecast, CE highlights some of its key decisions. First, it focused on “physical risks,” such as the impacts of more severe hurricanes and consistently higher temperatures, rather than “transition risks,” the impacts of taxes and regulations meant to mitigate climate change. What’s more, CE also tried to look for economic models that took into account the possibility of non-linear outcomes.

[Note: In ClimateSpeak, mitigation doesn’t have it’s usual meaning.  “Mitigate:  make something, such as a problem, symptom, or punishment, less harsh or severe.” (Mirriam-Webster).  IPCC supporters speak of spending Trillions of $ on schemes to reduce carbon emissions without any guarantee of lowering climate impacts.]

But again: The impacts mentioned here won’t result in either advanced or
emerging economies becoming poorer a generation from now than they are today.

Rather, the physical effects of climate change on economic activity would create headwinds that slow growth. A country suffering some of the biggest impacts from climate change would be Indonesia. Even so, CE still expects the country to become a top-ten economy by 2050. Yet under the 3°C scenario, it would rise to become the eighth largest economy rather than the fifth largest economy under the cooler CE baseline forecast.  Or India: Under both scenarios, it would still be the third largest economy by 2050, but under the 3°C scenario it only be three times as large as fourth place Germany rather than four times in the baseline.

The good news here is even with a rapid and severe climate outcome over the next 25 years, there’s good reason to think humanity will have even more economic resources and technological capabilities to do something about it — while also preparing for a future where more us can use more energy to turn our dreams into reality. Innovation-driven economic growth is what provides true resilience to America and the world.


We have always and will continue to adapt.to the effects of changing weather and climate, so long as we have the economic means to prepare and respond to events.  The real threat to society, humanity and the biosphere is climate policies directed against our energy platform.

See Also Series of Posts:   World of Hurt from Climate Policies






via Science Matters


May 20, 2023 at 10:46AM

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