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21st-century economic growth will be slower than we thought – and that’s not good news for our battle against climate change.

Heatwave about a city climate change

A recent study published in Communications Earth & Environment suggests that the global economy will experience slower growth than previously expected in the 21st century, which has significant implications for adapting to climate change in the coming decades. As a result, developing countries will take longer to close the wealth gap and approach the income of wealthier nations – and governments need to start planning for slower growth. Wealthier countries may also need to assist lower-income nations with help financing climate change adaptations.

The study utilized two economic models to forecast the growth rate of the global economy in the next century and the speed at which developing nations will approach the income levels of richer countries. According to the results of the models, the global economy will grow, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated by most economists, and the income disparity between wealthier and poorer nations will widen. This implies that wealthier countries may have to finance climate adaptations for less wealthy nations, and debt-ceiling crises may occur more frequently.

The authors recommend that wealthier nations prioritize stabilizing their own finances to enable them to support lower-income nations in financing climate adaptations. Although the world will become wealthier than it is today, it will also become relatively less equal, leading to more frequent debt-ceiling disputes.

The next issue to address is how to assist lower-income nations in adapting if they are unable to do so quickly and aggressively due to their lower level of wealth.

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