The top two greenhouse gas polluters in the world, China and the U.S. have cost the world economy more than $3 trillion in total, setting the stage for potential legal action, according to a study released on Tuesday.
Five of the world’s largest polluters, the United States, China, India, Russia, and Brazil, cost the global economy $6 trillion in a lost gross domestic product over a 25-year period, according to Dartmouth College researchers. Except for Brazil, which is the 12th-largest emitter in the world, all five countries are among the top five. During the study period, the amount corresponds to around 11% of the yearly world GDP.
From 1990 to 2014, the two greatest emitters, China and the U.S. were responsible for a loss of global income of more than $1.8 trillion apiece.
According to principal author and Dartmouth Ph.D. candidate Christopher Callahan, “our research provides an answer to the question of whether there is a scientific basis for climate liability claims—the answer is yes.” The responsibility of each country for historically temperature-driven variations in income in every other country has been quantified.
The study also assigned a numerical value to the harm that big emitters have caused to developing countries, which are frequently particularly vulnerable because of their geographical placements in the global south and along continental coastlines. For instance, over a 25-year period, Bangladesh suffered economic losses of $14.1 billion from the United States and $13.6 billion from China.
The principal researcher of the study, Justin Mankin, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth, stated in a statement that “greenhouse gases generated in one country cause warming in another, and that warmth can lower economic growth.” This study offers estimates of the financial losses that various nations have endured as a result of other nations’ climate change efforts that are useful legally.
The study, according to researchers, refutes the notion that national action, rather than international cooperation, is required for the mitigation of climate change.
The world must unite to avoid global warming, but individual nations can still take steps to spur change, according to Callahan. The idea that the causes and effects of global warming only happen at the global level is refuted by this research.
Republicans have frequently questioned the efficacy of American-based mitigation measures by pointing to China’s emissions contribution. John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, has consistently stated that Beijing’s participation is essential for successful global mitigation efforts.
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