Common Press Release February 19, 2007
|Institut für Weltwirtschaft an der Universität Kiel
World Wide Fund For Nature
National Product to Suffer as a Result of Global Warming
Climate Change Predicted to Cause Productivity Losses and Increased Numbers of Heat-Related Deaths
A study released at a press conference held by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IFW) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has found that global climate change is likely to cause significant productivity losses and a marked increased in the number of heat-related deaths in Germany by the end of the century. The author of the study, Professor Gernot Klepper of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, warns that “Germany could lose 0.1 to 0.5 percent of its national product annually due to increases in the number of hot days,” i.e., the number of days when the subjective temperature is above 32°C.
The study, commissioned to the IFW by the WWF, and entitled “The Costs of Climate Change,” deals with the effects that increasing temperatures will have on Germans’ health and productivity in 2071–2100. The study projects the increase in the number of annual hot days for 16 German cities. The cities with the largest increases will be the cities in the Upper Rhine Valley and the conurbation areas. Mannheim will have the largest increase, namely, an increase of 23 hot days annually, followed by Frankfurt with an increase of 19 hot days, Leipzig with an increase of 12, and Hamburg with an increase of 9.
The effects of these increases will be tragic. According to the study, if no measures are taken to adjust to these increases, the number of heat-related deaths could increase by 5,000–15,000 annually. Today already, 24,500 are admitted to hospitals annually for symptoms caused by the enormous strain that heat can put on the circulatory system and the lungs. According to the study, this number is likely to rise to approximately 150,000 annually, which will cause a rise in hospital costs alone in the magnitude of 300-700 million euros.
The greatest costs, however, will be caused by the diminished ability of workers to be as productive as usual on extremely hot days. Decreases in productivity of up to 12 percent could cause loses to the economy of up to 10 billion euros. According to the study, 2.4 billion euros have already been lost today because of hot weather.
At the press conference, the IFW and the WWF pointed out that cost to the economy caused by the health effects of climate change cannot currently be accurately predicted. Numerous health-related effects of climate change, such as the spread of ticks and allergenic plants, will need to be studied in the future.
The WWF also emphasized that there are already significant signs of global warming. Regina Günther, a climate expert at the WWF, stated that “the costs of climate change can only be curbed if we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Warm words will not help, politicians need to take ice-cold action.” The German government, according to Günther, must champion Europe-wide action to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2020. Further, it must also finally accept the EU Commission’s emission trading cap of 453 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and stop favoring the use of coal-fired power plants. Günther admonished that “Germany must stop favoring industry and thus being a drag on climate protection in Europe.”
She also excoriated the response of carmakers to the recent EU proposal to establish new, enforced limits on the CO2 emissions produced by cars: “Letting the carmakers prevail with their climatologically harmful stance is not acceptable. Normally they like to go at full throttle, but when it comes to climate protection they slam on the brakes.”
For further information, a copy of the study, or an information diagram contact:
Ralph Kampworth, WWF Press Office, Tel. +49-162-2914-473
Jürgen Stehn, IfW Press Office, Tel. +49-431-8814-331
WWF Germany is a national organization of the World Wide Fund for Nature, whose international offices are located in Gland, Switzerland