Dependence of economic impacts of climate change on anthropogenically directed pathways


There are great uncertainties in the projected economic impacts of climate change1, arising from uncertainties in the climate response2, the climate change mitigation pathway3 and the socioeconomic development pathway4. Although the relative contributions of these factors are important for climate change related decision-making, they are poorly understood. Here, we show to what extent the projected economic impacts of climate change can be attributed to these three factors. Our modelling framework consisting of global, multisectoral impact models coupled with an integrated assessment model enables us to estimate the global total economic impacts of climate change while incorporating these uncertainty sources. Whereas the most pessimistic pathway without mitigation would result in a net economic impact equivalent to 6.6% (3.9–8.6%) of global gross domestic product at the end of this century, the pathways with stringent mitigation would limit the impact to around or less than 1%. Although the uncertainties are great, the climate change mitigation pathway is the dominant factor and socioeconomic developments can also contribute to alleviate the impacts of climate change. These results suggest that decisions on mitigation and development have a great influence in determining the economic impacts of climate change, regardless of the uncertainties in the climate response.

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Fig. 1: Projected economic impact.
Fig. 2: Variance of the projected impact attributed to each factor.
Fig. 3: Proportion of attributed variance for sectoral impacts.
Fig. 4: Relationships of impact, vulnerability, temperature and SED.

Data availability

Data required to reproduce the main results are available in the Supplementary Datasets and Code.

Code availability

Computer code required to reproduce the main results are available in Supplementary Datasets and Code.

Change history

  • 07 October 2019

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.


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This research was supported by the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (no. S-14) of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency.

Author information

S.F., N.H., T.H., Y.Hirabayashi, Y.Honda, T.I., N.K., C.P., Z.S., K.Takahashi., J.T., M.Tamura., M.Tanoue, K.Tsuchida, H.Y. and Q.Z. conducted analyses on the sectoral impacts and provided the data. J.T. conducted the analysis of the aggregated impacts. J.T. and S.F. wrote the manuscript. T.O. and Y.Hijioka directed the study. All authors participated in the interpretation of the results, discussion and revising the draft of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Jun’ya Takakura.

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Competing interests

J.T. was employed by Toshiba Corporation, which is associated with the manufacture, sale, distribution and marketing of hydro/thermal power plants, until February 2016. K.Tsuchida has been employed by Nippon Koei, which is associated with consultation on natural disaster prevention (including fluvial flooding and coastal inundation) and on hydro/thermal power plants, since April 2019. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–23, Discussions 1–4, Tables 1–5, Methods 1–4 and references.

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Supplementary Datasets and Code

Supplementary datasets and code to reproduce main results.

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Takakura, J., Fujimori, S., Hanasaki, N. et al. Dependence of economic impacts of climate change on anthropogenically directed pathways. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 737–741 (2019).

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