The most extreme risks of climate change can’t be ruled out -- including the collapse of human civilization, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“The response to climate change should be motivated not only by central estimates of outcomes but also by the likelihood of extreme events,” bank economists David Mackie and Jessica Murray wrote in a Jan. 14 report to clients. “We cannot rule out catastrophic outcomes where human life as we know it is threatened.”
The analysts, who warned last year of ‘Black Swan’ tipping points that could push the planet and the economy into uncharted territory, also said that the longer that climate change action is delayed, the more costly it’ll be to address later.
Governments, central banks and business leaders are beginning to grapple with the impact of climate change, including extreme weather, drought and floods.
The European Union recently laid out a wide-ranging environmental investment program. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve has joined other central banks in researching the potential economic effects, and Democratic candidates running for president have announced a range of climate proposals -- the most aggressive of which is the Green New Deal backed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Estimates of the costs of climate change vary widely depending on the methodology, with scientists and mainstream economists arriving at figures of between 1% and 30% of global gross domestic product by the end of the century.
The data used by JPMorgan estimates that a “business-as-usual” approach, in which global temperatures rise above 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, would reduce gross domestic product per capita by 7.2%.
Even still, predictions of the economic damage are probably “far too small,” the bank’s economists wrote. “Economic models struggle to deal with low probability events that could prove catastrophic.”
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