Every economy at risk from climate change, IMF says

Some of the nations with the warmest climates could say a decline in per capita GDP if temperatures increase just 1.80 degrees in the Fahrenheit scale.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 6, 2017 at 7:28 AM
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Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The consequences of a changing climate pose a threat to every single economy in the world, the head of the International Monetary Fund said from Massachusetts.

An annual report from the World Health Organization and UNICEF said global hunger is on the rise, affecting 11 percent of the world's population, in part because of climate change. The report found a link between conflict and climate-related shocks because of demand strains brought on by extreme weather events. Some of the nations with the highest level of malnourished children, meanwhile, are the most war-torn. More than 7 million people faced food security risks in Syria last year.

Speaking at Harvard University, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said cooperation on climate change is critical.

"Climate change is a threat to every economy and every citizen," she said in her address.

The British and French governments said this year they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its roads beginning in 2040 as part of a comprehensive low-carbon agenda. For renewable energy, nine countries that share a border with the North Sea agreed last year to improve infrastructure to support offshore wind.

With many of the low-lying Pacific Islands facing the earliest risks from the impacts of climate change, meanwhile, a report from the Asian Development Bank found that, if left unchecked, climate change could lead to the loss of about $52 billion per year for regional economies.

Lagarde said countries that have an average annual temperature in the mid 70s on the Fahrenheit scale, like some of those in the Asia-Pacific, could see per capita gross domestic product drop by nearly 1.5 percent because of the pressures from climate change. Many countries that face the biggest risk, she said, can't tackle the challenge alone.

"Only international cooperation can stem the man-made causes of global warming," she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has raised doubts about the causes of climate change and said his administration is reviewing its role in the multilateral Paris climate deal. In his State of the Union address last month, European Union President Claude-Juncker vowed to take up the mantle.

"I want Europe to be the leader when it comes to the fight against climate change," he said.

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