What is the economics of climate change

Background current

Climate change not only costs a lot of money, it will also change economic structures. While the organic industry is developing into a job engine according to a recent study in Germany, the population in poor regions is mostly feeling the negative consequences of climate change.

Rainforests: Threatened by the bioenergy boom.
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According to calculations by the Federal Environment Agency, Germany has to invest four billion euros annually in climate protection measures in order to massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Andreas Troge, the money should flow primarily into renewable energies and thermal insulation. To stop global warming, Troge said in an interview, industrialized countries would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Otherwise, according to Troge, the costs for environmental damage or the treatment of climate-related diseases could add up to 100 billion euros annually in Germany alone. The 35,000 heat deaths in Europe in the summer of 2003 are, according to the European Office of the World Health Organization in Rome, only a first alarming example of this.

The Stern Report, named after the former chief economist of the World Bank, Nicoals Stern, warned of the immense costs of climate change back in October. According to the report, if nothing was done to combat climate change, humanity would face costs of five to 20 percent of global gross domestic product - figures that are only comparable with the effects of the global economic crisis in the 1930s.

For the German labor market, however, according to a current study by the management consultancy Roland Berger, climate change is expected to have positive effects. "In 2020, the environmental industry will feed more employees than mechanical engineering or the auto industry," explained an employee of the consultancy. There are currently already one million employees working in the field of environmental technology in Germany.

So while the organic sector is increasingly recognized as a lucrative business area, climate change is already affecting poor regions particularly hard. Extreme periods of drought or floods make life difficult. They could turn millions of people into climate refugees. In addition, there is a downside to the demand for environmentally friendly energies on the part of the industrialized nations. In Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, for example, rainforests are cleared for the production of environmentally friendly biodiesel and for the production of ethanol in order to create areas for cultivation. Another example of the negative consequences of the increased demand for bioenergy can be seen in Mexico. The most important food there, tortilla flour, which is made from corn, has become almost unaffordable for the poor. Industrialized countries are buying up the market in order to convert corn into biodiesel for their vehicles.

The former environment minister and head of the United Nations climate program, Klaus Töpfer, warned on the occasion of the second part of the current UN climate report published on Friday that climate protection should not primarily serve the purpose of continuing our energy-intensive lifestyle for as long as possible: "It must be clear that our lifestyle is not an export item for the world - and that we have to change it, "said Töpfer. A German causes an average of ten tons of carbon dioxide per year - that's only half as much as an American, but ten times more than an African.

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