Rising sea levels could cost USD 14 trillion worldwide annually by 2100, say scientists who warn that failing to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius will lead to dire global economic consequences.

The researchers from UK National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) also found that upper-middle income countries such as China would see the largest increase in flood costs, whereas the highest income countries would suffer the least, thanks to existing high levels of protection infrastructure.

The study team explored the pace and consequences of global and regional sea level rise with restricted warming of 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, and compared them to sea level projections with unmitigated warming following emissions scenario Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5.

“If warming is not mitigated and follows the RCP8.5 sea level rise projections, the global annual flood costs without adaptation will increase to USD 14 trillion per year for a median sea level rise of 0.86 metres, and up to USD 27 trillion per year for 1.8 metres. This would account for 2.8 per cent of global GDP in 2100,”said Svetlana Jevrejeva, lead author of the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The projected difference in coastal sea levels is also likely to mean tropical areas will see extreme sea levels more often.

“These extreme sea levels will have a negative effect on the economies of developing coastal nations, and the habitability of low-lying coastlines,” said Jevrejeva.PTI

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