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Global warming to cost world $2.4 trillion in lost productivity in 2030: ILO – The Mainichi

A public thermometer displays a temperature of 41.4 degrees Celsius on July 23, 2018 in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Maruyama)

TOKYO — A decline in labor productivity caused by global warming is likely to cause $2.4 trillion, or approximately 260 trillion yen, in economic losses in the world in 2030, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said.

The ILO warned that the agricultural and construction industries will be hit particularly hard by climate change, and underscored the need for each country to focus on risks involving heat and take effective measures to protect workers.

According to the Geneva-based organization, workers are adversely affected by heat stress if the temperature exceeds 35 degrees Celsius with high humidity. Specifically, high heat and humidity negatively affect workers’ physical functions, pushing down their productivity. In extreme cases, workers could even die of heatstroke. The ILO also points out that workers are prone to mistakes and injuries if their body temperature exceeds 39 degrees as a result of heat.

The Paris Agreement, an international framework for countermeasures against global warming that will take effect in 2020, set a goal of limiting a rise in the average global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Moreover, the framework requires parties to make an effort to restrict the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above those levels.

The ILO estimates that in 1995, 1.4% of total work hours in the world were being lost to heat, causing economic losses of $280 billion, or some 30 trillion yen. Even if countermeasures are taken at a pace quick enough to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels by the end of the current century, the temperature would still rise 1.3 degrees by 2030, possibly causing 2.2% of global work hours to be lost and resulting in $2.4 trillion in economic losses.

The consequences of global warming would vary from region to region. South Asian and West African countries are feared to be hit particularly hard.

Fearing that the impact of global warming on agriculture could aggravate poverty and a food crisis, the ILO underscores the need to move ahead with the introduction of machines for farming to increase productivity, as well as to monitor temperatures at workplaces.

At the current pace, global warming would cause temperatures to rise far more than 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels.

(Japanese original by Ai Oba, Science & Environment News Department)

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