Parts of Europe could see „catastrophic” economic losses from seas in the coming decades, researchers say. A new study found that in the worst case scenarioAnd The European Union and the United Kingdom could lose 872 billion euros (about $950 billion) by the end of the century, with many regions experiencing GDP losses of between 10% and 21%.
The study was published Thursday in the journal Scientific reports, examined the economic impacts of sea level rise for 271 European regions. The researchers based their analysis on high estimates , which increases global temperatures, a process that causes sea levels to rise. For the study, it is based on no new coastal protection measures beyond 2015, although countries can take steps to reduce the impact.
What they found was that this included both the EU and the UK 12 major contributors In global goods trade, about $950 billion will be lost, 1.26% of GDP, according to the European Union. But the loss in smaller places, especially in coastal areas, is even more significant, the researchers said.
Study author Tatiana Filatova called the potential impacts „catastrophic.” But she said, „The purpose of this study is not to scare.”
„Importantly… the continent-wide total misrepresents the actual damage experienced by regional economies,” Filadova said.
Some inland regions, including Germany, Austria and Hungary, will see their GDP grow slightly by 2100 – possibly due to the migration of industries and services away from coastal floodplains, the study authors said. But many areas — what the study authors called „hot spots,” mostly along the coast — could see large GDP losses.
Native to the northeastern Italian region of Veneto, could see a 20.84% GDP loss, the researchers found, while Poland's Zachodniopomorskie could see a loss of more than 12% and Italy's Emilia-Romagna region could see a 10.16% loss. In the UK, Lincolnshire, England was found to be the most economically at risk, with a 20.1% loss of GDP by 2100.
Such sums, the study says, are „substantial, if not catastrophic.”
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„[What will happen] There's still some degree in the cards, but we've deliberately taken the worst-case scenario available … to see what happens if we do nothing,” Ignacy Cortés Arbus, the study's lead author, told a conference. „It's about hot spots. Places with no adaptation basically disappear.”
Climate risks such as sea-level rise will have a major impact on the economy, he said, and „trigger a realignment”.
„This means that certain sectors will become more important in the region's GDP, and this is due to the impact of risk,” he said. „…if you have a natural disaster, the construction industry will benefit a lot afterwards…but what does that mean for other sectors?”
Cortés Arbués and his team studied how different economic sectors – agriculture, industry, construction, utility logistics, transport, private services and public services – would be affected by sea level rise for different regions. Unlike construction, which is only projected to grow as sea levels rise, because it needs to help with recovery, agriculture and public services could see losses, the study found.
„Our findings confirm that national-level analysis masks regional disparities and underestimates potential systematic damages to vulnerable coastal areas, which can be an order of magnitude larger than national GDP losses,” the study says. „…greater awareness of these impacts is necessary to develop effective climate change adaptation strategies.”
Philadova said their findings help better understand the economic shocks that climate change-related events can cause. Although their research focuses on European countries, he said, their analyzes can — and should — be considered worldwide.
„Europe is well protected, even compared to North America,” he said. „Reproducing similar analyzes will be very important.”
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