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Historical emissions: in 30 years the 5 largest polluters have gnawed 11% of global GDP

A direct link is established between the greenhouse gases of one country and the climate damages suffered by another nation

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – One of the issues that dominate the climate negotiations in recent years is compensation, so-called loss&damage. If we consider the historical emissions, that is those accumulated from the beginning of the industrial age to today, the most advanced economies are responsible for an absolute majority share of greenhouse gases. But how can we calculate the global impact of these emissions? And is it possible to establish with any precision the damage caused in one state by emissions from another country?

A team of researchers at Dartmouth College asked these questions and developed a model that could establish direct connections between greenhouse gases emitted by a country and impacts on GDP in 143 other states. It is the first time that a tool has been developed that allows the consequences of climate-altering emissions to be attributed with this degree of accuracy. In the past, other studies had estimated the economic impact of global greenhouse gases or individual countries but failed to quantify how much the level of global warming is attributable to a single nation. If the scientific community thinks it’s strong enough, the study published in Climatic Change could help the most vulnerable countries’ claims for damage.

Greenhouse gases emitted in one country cause heating in another, and this heating can depress economic growth,” explains Justin Mankin, one of the authors of the study. “This research provides legally valid estimates of the financial damage that individual nations have suffered due to the climaltering activities of other countries”. And it could put the most industrialized countries in a corner, which since the COP25 in Madrid in 2019 have been holding back the entry into force of a mechanism to compensate for losses and damage. “So far, the complexity of the carbon cycle, the natural variations in climate, and the uncertainties of the models have provided emitters with a plausible negation for individual damage claims. This veil of denial has now been lifted,” Mankin said.

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What does the analysis of the Darmouth College team reveal? The top 10 global emitters alone, researchers calculated, cause more than two-thirds of global economic losses. There are also trends. Countries that lose from global warming are generally warmer and poorer than the global average, and are usually found in the tropics and the South of the world. By contrast, countries that benefit (for now) from climate change are colder and richer than the global average and are generally located at mid-latitudes and in the North.

The top five global emitters of greenhouse gases, namely China, the United States, Brazil, India and Russia, have caused overall economic losses of $ 6 trillion from 1990 to date, about 11% of global GDP. The biggest share goes to the United States, which is responsible for damages of 1,910 billion dollars in the last 30 years. (lm)

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