The World Wildlife Fund has warned that about £368bn a year will be wiped off global economic growth by 2050 because of loss of nature. One of the major losers in this will be the United Kingdom which will see about £16bn being lost on an annual basis in the same period.
The global economy could have to pay a total of almost £8tn over the next 30 years because of coastal erosion globally, species loss and the decline of natural assets from forests to fisheries, warned the environmental charity and called for urgent action to preserve and protect nature.
While the amount predicted by the organization in the report will stand to account for about 0.67% of global income in 2050, it warned that the amount could significantly go up if there is faster deterioration in some of the areas such as the Antarctic which will result in greater warming and cause sea levels across the world to rise faster and higher than forecast.
According to the Global Futures report of the organization, the building blocks of essential ecosystems would get undermined because of decimation of natural habitats including forests, wetlands and coral reefs. That will further reduce fish stocks, timber production and the number of pollinators.
There would be huge financial costs related to losses in pollination, coastal protection, water supplies and stored carbon because of increases in the use of fossil fuels as well as in the taking agriculture and urban development into areas and landscapes that were previously unused, said the report.
The report further predicted that the hit to the agriculture sector because of the loss of nature, will result in rise of global food prices by 2050. The report even quantified the rise and estimated an 8% rise in price of timber, 6% for cotton, 4% for oil seeds and 3% for fruit and vegetables.
The estimates were “very conservative”, said Karen Ellis, director of sustainable economy at WWF, and added that governments need to keep in mind that the actual impact because of climate change could be much larger.
“[The study] only looked at six ecosystem services, so this is almost certainly an underestimate. The real costs are probably much higher. This is the first attempt to make such a comprehensive assessment, so this is a preliminary estimate,” she said.
The costs for the necessary remedial actions to prevent further damage to the ecosystems and nature was not possible to be calculated by the researchers because too many variables were to be considered, she said but added that making such estimates could be possible in future studies.
Most of the estimates of rectification costs for preventing climate change have been made assuming a global increase in temperature of 1.5C.
For example, according to the Stern report that was authored by the UK economist Lord Stern in 2006, about 1% of annual GDP would be the cost of cutting down of carbon emissions to limit temperature increases but an estimated of 20% of GDP will be the cost of the economic damage because of climate change if corrective measures are not taken.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)