An increase in CO2 emissions could lead to reduced labour productivity, with lower-income countries facing a productivity loss nine times higher than high-income countries, a study has suggested
Researchers at Concordia University, Canada and the Ouranos Institute in the Netherlands, based their calculations on historical and future increases of heat exposure using simulations from eight separate Earth System Models (ESM).
An ESM replicates the movement of carbon through the earth system.
They used calculations based on widely used guidelines regarding rest time recommendations per hour of labour and heat exposure.
They found that for every trillion tonnes of CO2 emitted, it could cause global losses of about 0.5%. Therefore, current emissions may have already led to economic losses as much as 2% of global GDP.
The researchers identify agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction as the sectors most vulnerable to heat exposure.
These sectors account for 73% of low-income countries’ output, and so low-income countries are at a higher risk.
Damon Mathews, professor and Concordia research chair in climate science and sustainability said: ‘The thresholds of heat exposure leading to labour productivity are likely to be exceeded sooner and more extensively in developing countries in warmer parts of the world.’
‘These countries are also more vulnerable because a higher fraction of their workforce is employed in these sectors and because they have less ability to implement infrastructural changes that deal with a changing climate.’
Mathews says he hopes this study can help to change the way people think about the overall consequences of a warming planet and can help countries to adopt mitigating methods.
He writes: ‘This study can help us point to specific countries that are experiencing a quantifiable share of the economic damages that result from the emissions we produce.’
In related news, developed countries’ efforts to cut CO2 emissions and tackle climate change are starting to pay off, according to a leading climate change research centre.
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