Global human and economic losses from river floods are set to rise in coming years, even with the most optimistic climate outlook, says a study led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change (Dottori et al, 2018). The JRC-led study estimates global human and economic losses from river floods for Specific Warming Levels (SWLs), from the Paris Agreement targets (1.5 and 2°C) to a 3°C warmer world, and finds that, from the current global yearly average of 5,700 deaths from river flooding, annual deaths could rise by 83% at 1.5°C global warming, 124% at 2°C, and 265% at 3°C. Estimates of immediate economic costs and long term impacts tell a similar story. Depending on the socio-economic scenario, at 1.5°C warming direct flood damage is set to rise by 160–240%. Longer-term welfare losses (i.e. reduction in consumption compared to the scenario without climate impacts) could reach 0.3%. At 2°C warming, direct economic damage doubles and welfare losses rise to 0.4%. Impacts are much higher at 3°C warming. Long term losses could even exceed direct damages, due to increased persistent effects on the economy.
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