The missing economic risks in assessments of climate change impacts

DeFries, Ruth S.; Edenhofer, Ottmar; Halliday, Alexander N.; Heal, Geoffrey M.; Lenton, Timothy; Puma, Michael; Rising, James; Rockström, Johan; Ruane, Alexander; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim; Stainforth, David; Stern, Nicholas; Tedesco, Marco; Ward, Bob

In order to make well-informed decisions on climate change action, leaders need to understand clearly the nature and magnitude of the risks to lives and livelihoods that are being created by climate change. Unfortunately, much of the technical advice and recommendations about these risks incorporate assessments of the economic implications that omit or underplay the largest potential impacts of climate change.

This policy insight seeks to identify and draw attention to these missing and under-represented risks. The authors also discuss how populations might fare in light of their potential to adapt in the face of these risks. When the risks are taken into account, the case for strong, deliberate and urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions becomes even more compelling.


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This report was produced by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. It is also available at