Climate change: Consequences of inaction



Up, up and away

CO2 emissions are rising, bringing the average global temperature up with them. This will have an impact on the environment, human health, and will have economic costs.


Download the underlying data on CO2 concentrations and temperature increase

The Baseline scenario envisages the future situation without more ambitious policies than those in force today ("business-as-usual").
The concentration level of 450ppm is the goal set at the 2010 UNFCCC Conference in Cancún to limit the temperature increase to 2°C.


How hot depends on us

Some regions will be affected more than others, although the severity of these impacts will depend on how much we act now to mitigate the consequences.



The water’s rising

As the increase in temperature melts polar ice caps, global sea levels will rise. Without adaptation measures, coastal cities will be experiencing major effects by 2070, with USD 35, 000 billion of urban assets in danger, more than 10 times current levels.


When it rains, it pours

Temperature changes will also affect precipitation patterns unevenly, causing many dry areas to become drier and wet areas to become wetter.



Cloudy with a chance of catastrophes

The risk of floods will be much greater in many urban areas. Depending on the climate scenarios, global urban flood damages are projected to amount to USD 0.7 to 1.8 trillion by 2080.

‌Download the underlying data urban flood damages by region


At the same time, droughts are expected to increase and the number of people living in severely water-stressed areas will rise, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia.

‌Download the underlying data on the number of people living in water-stressed river basins


In general, the number of catastrophic events is expected to increase. This applies to both natural disasters and man-made disasters.


Rising temperatures, rainfall variation and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will threaten crop yields.


The impacts will damage many facets of life

They will also threaten biodiversity, as habitats and lives become endangered. 

‌Download the underlying data on terrestrial mean species abundance per region


Human lives will also be affected. Premature deaths from exposure to particulates in the air will increase greatly. 

Download the underlying data on premature deaths worldwide from exposure to particulates


The economic consequences will be costly, too

While the cost of not acting varies depending on the region, the consequences of climate will be negative everywhere.

‌Download the underlying data on regional damages from selected climate change impacts


Doing nothing will cost more than acting

Implementing climate change mitigation measures will help us avoid such huge costs. Mitigation measures sufficient for a 2 degree scenario would only slightly affect future economic growth. Concrete actions can, and should, be taken. Next week we’ll look at what these actions are.

‌Download the underlying data on cost of mitigation


Further information:

- Most data featured on this page come from the OECD Environmental Outlook (2012) and The Economic Consequences of Climate Change (2015)

- Read more statistics story on COP21: Climate Change in Figures and Climate change mitigation

- OECD at #COP21


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