The economics of climate change

Climate change poses the biggest long-term risk to the New Zealand and global economy. No action to reduce emissions is not an option.

Often we hear from short-term “thinking” local body politicians that they couldn’t possibly sign the Climate Declaration or take action to reduce emissions because the costs could be high.  There is always some excuse for inaction on the climate crisis. Its Covid 19 , or dairy prices are too low, or rates will go up.

What we never hear from these people is that climate change poses the biggest long-term risk to the global economy and that failing to take action will impose massive costs to New Zealand’s economy.  If we fail to take action then New Zealand and every other nation, including our trading partners will suffer huge reductions in GDP and our standard of living.  Not taking action now to reduce emissions is therefore not an option.

A report by SwissRe has found that by mid-century the world stands to lose around 10% of total economic value from climate change.  This is a real scenario if temperature increases stay in the current trajectory, and both the Paris Agreement and the 2050 net-zero emission targets are not met.

SwissRe has developed a Climate Economics Index which stress tests how climate risks will impact 48 countries representing 90% of the world economy and ranks their overall climate resilience.  New Zealand does not fare particularly well under this index.

If we continue on our current path and temperatures rise to 3.2° then New Zealand would suffer a 3.9% reduction in GDP by 2030, a reduction of 7.7% by 2038 and a whopping 13.6% reduction by 2050. 

Even if global temperatures are kept to 2° New Zealand would still suffer a 2% reduction in GDP by 2030, a 5.3% reduction by 2038 and a 9.7% reduction by 2050

New Zealanders is particularly vulnerable in this index to sea level rise.

New Zealand also has high risk from “wet climate” effects.

Politicians who say we cannot tackle because of Covid (insert excuse here) or only look to the next election need to wake up and look at the long-term economic consequences of the climate crisis. Failing to reduce emissions now will be an economic catastrophe for New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “The economics of climate change

  1. Need to wake up – do something about Climate Change = no more rhetoric and endless dialogue – concrete action needed


  2. Dennis, I look at your facebook posts from tie to time as I am serious about global threats ever since we read “Limits to Growth” when it came out.
    Re the economic damage ahead from climate chaos I suggest you look at this youtube of economist Steve Keen for some more insight.

    My wife Jocelyn a few years ago but I am still healthy.
    Paul Bieleski, Nelson.


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