Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Landscape on the Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq. Photo: Martin Zwick/Reda&Co/UIG via Getty Images

Meeting the more stringent global temperature targets included in the Paris climate agreement would save countries trillions of dollars in economic output, outweighing the costs of reducing emissions, new research has found.

Why it matters: The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is the first to look at how global economic output would be affected under different amounts of global warming, providing policymakers with the "benefits" side of a cost-benefit analysis.

  • The study examines the historical tie between climate and economic output in 165 countries during the period from 1960 to 2010, and uses this to project future changes in economic development.

What they found: The study found that the more that the climate warms due to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air, then the more that economic output in many countries would drop. Even some of the world's biggest economies — China, the U.S., and Japan — would be significantly affected if global average temperatures were to increase by two, three, or four degrees Celsius relative to preindustrial levels.

  • However, poorer countries located in the tropics would see the greatest economic losses if the world were to warm past the targets contained in the Paris agreement, which went into effect in 2016.
  • The study found that many countries in the tropics would see per capita economic output that would be 10% to 20% higher at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming through 2100.
  • Only a few countries might benefit from slightly greater amounts of warming, including Scandinavian nations along with Russia, Iceland, and Canada.

The bottom line: According to study co-author Marshall Burke, by the end of the century, the world would be about 3% wealthier if global warming were limited to the Paris agreement's more stringent temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, as compared to 2 degrees.

"In dollar terms this represents about $30 trillion dollars in cumulative benefits if we meet the more ambitious 1.5 degree target ... Our analysis would suggest that the benefits of meeting the stringent targets vastly outweigh the costs,”
— Marshall Burke, economist at Stanford University, on a conference call with reporters
  • The study also looked at the consequences of hitting 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming, which is where the world is currently headed based on greenhouse gas emissions trends. “This will cost the globe an additional 5% to 10% of global GDP," Burke said. "Dollar-wise, that’s tens of trillions of dollars, so these are very large numbers.”
  • According to University of California at Berkeley researcher Solomon Hsiang, who was not involved in the new study, the new data provides an important new perspective. "It will cost substantial resources to transform the global energy system to be independent of fossil fuels. The analysis by Marshall and his team helps us understand whether the extra investments necessary to achieve a 1.5-degree goal are worth it," Hsiang told Axios.

Yes, but: There are considerable uncertainties associated with this study's projections. For example, a technological breakthrough could come along that would change the way society has historically responded to increasing temperatures.

  • “We cannot rule out unprecedented adaptation in the future. That is one of the inherent uncertainties in our paper,” Burke said.
  • On the other hand, Stanford climate scientist and study co-author Noah Diffenbaugh said the climate system could respond to higher levels of warming in unpredictable ways that cause even more damage, such as through the sudden, more rapid melting of ice sheets, which would trigger a sudden and damaging rise in sea levels. Climate scientists have long warned that the likelihood of such nasty surprises goes up along with global average temperatures.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
23 mins ago - Health

Many vulnerable Americans have received the coronavirus vaccine

Data: CDC, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than two-thirds of Americans 75 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, as have more than half of those 65-74, per CDC data.

Why it matters: Any future surge in cases almost certainly wouldn't be as deadly as previous waves, because older people are the most likely to die from the virus.

3 hours ago - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.