Globalization risks worsening the effects of climate change

Unless there is a drastic drop in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the coming years, the bill could approach US$25 trillion by 2060, says a new study published in the journal Nature. And everyone will be affected, poor countries as well as the richest nations. Big plan.

Supply chains under threat

“There is evidence that the frequency and severity of global heatwaves continues to increase, raising concerns about the future effects of climate change and the associated socio-economic costs,” write from the outset. game the authors of the study entitled Global supply chains amplify the economic costs of future extreme heat risks (Global supply chains amplify economic costs of future extreme heat risk, in its original English version). According to the team of researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing, globalization is the main aggravating factor in the context of climate change. The study focuses in particular on the consequences of warming on exporting and importing countries.

From Africa…to the UK

The study focuses specifically on extreme heat waves and their impact on supply chains. An extraordinary weather event in one region of Africa can thus have consequences on the other side of the world, in a rich country, for example. “UK beer or coffee consumption may fall due to the severe effect of heat stress on wheat and coffee bean suppliers in Africa and South America. This type of spillover effect can have important consequences in terms of global food security, energy supply and the supply of various mineral products,” the authors point out.


This farmer harvests coffee beans on his plantation in Naranjo, Costa Rica, on February 15.

Considerable losses

The scientists sought to determine economic risks based on three global GHG emissions trajectories. In the low-emissions scenario, the number of extreme heat days would increase by 24% between 2022 and 2060, leading to an estimated US$3.75 trillion in economic losses globally. Conversely, if emissions remain high, the number of days of extreme heat would increase by 104% in 38 years and economic losses would reach $24.7 trillion. In the middle scenario, which roughly corresponds to current efforts to reduce emissions, losses would be between 9.4 and 12.6 billion dollars by 2060. This hypothesis is, however, based on the commitments made by many countries and not on real reductions in polluting emissions.


A worker stacks bags of grain at a market in Al-Qadarif, Sudan, on February 22.

Rich countries more at risk

“Like most studies, it suggests that the impacts will be greatest in developing countries. But this has generally been considered in terms of the direct impacts of heat and weather disruptions, underlines Mark Purdon, professor in the department of strategy, social and environmental responsibility at UQAM. What is new is quantifying the indirect effects of disrupting global supply chains. Given that developed countries like Canada are relatively more involved in these chains, the study suggests that developed countries are more at risk than previously thought. » Mr. Purdon believes that climate change could also reinforce “tendencies in favor of protectionism and the national economy, which are currently on the rise”.


A Kenyan farmer observes the devastation on his corn field caused by the passage of a swarm of locusts, in June 2020.

Olive oil and coffee suffer from drought

Consumers are already feeling the effects of climate change on certain food products, for example. Olive oil is probably one of the best examples of the effects of warming on food prices. In Mediterranean countries, droughts have caused a decline in production in recent years, driving up prices for olive oil. A similar phenomenon occurs with coffee. In a study published in 2023 in the journal PLOS Climateresearchers have estimated that global coffee production could decline by half by 2050 due to climate change.


This Tunisian farmer inspects the olives on his plantation in Kairouan on February 24.

Consult the study published in Nature (in English)


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