A drop in global GDP would be good for the planet | Letters

You cannot have it both ways and complain that global warming will harm GDP (Economic damage from climate change six times worse than thought – report, 17 May). A drop in global GDP is one of the best things that can happen to reduce global warming if it reduces consumption of carbon-intensive products and services. GDP is a very poor way to measure the negative impacts of global warming.

Much more relevant is to understand people’s wellbeing and their livelihoods which, as is well known, are not measured very well by GDP. What needs to be understood is how the different impacts of climate change affect the many types of livelihood.

Nearly half the world’s population in the so-called global south who are already poor are in precarious forms of farming or pastoralism. They survive as subsistence land owners, marginal tenants and/or waged labour on other people’s farms. Their contribution to GDP is much lower than the significance of their livelihoods, as the value of their output is undervalued in standard economic methods.
Terry Cannon
Emeritus senior research fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

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