To evaluate policies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, economic models require estimates of how future climate change will affect well-being. So far, nearly all estimates of the economic impacts of future warming have been developed by combining estimates of impacts in individual sectors of the economy1,2. Recent work has used variation in warming over time and space to produce top-down estimates of how past climate and weather shocks have affected economic output3,4,5. Here we propose a statistical framework for converting these top-down estimates of past economic costs of regional warming into projections of the economic cost of future global warming. Combining the latest physical climate models, socioeconomic projections, and economic estimates of past impacts, we find that future warming could raise the expected rate of economic growth in richer countries, reduce the expected rate of economic growth in poorer countries, and increase the variability of growth by increasing the climate’s variability. This study suggests we should rethink the focus on global impacts and the use of deterministic frameworks for modelling impacts and policy.
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D.L. is grateful for support from Resources for the Future’s John V. Krutilla Research Stipend and the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment. S.K.’s research was supported by the National Science Foundation under award No. 1331373. The Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research (DISCCRS) played a crucial role in connecting the authors and stimulating the project. G. Moreno and C. Raphael provided research and graphical design assistance, respectively.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lemoine, D., Kapnick, S. A top-down approach to projecting market impacts of climate change. Nature Clim Change 6, 51–55 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2759
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