How many people will live in poverty because of climate change? A macro-level projection analysis to 2070
October 02, 2023
This article gives direct attention to the pathways from climate change through socioeconomic development to the future of poverty
Jonathan D. Moyer, Audrey Pirzadeh, Mohammod Irfan, José Solórzano, Barbara Stone, Yutang Xiong, Taylor Hanna & Barry B. Hughes
Fossil fuel-based economic development both causes climate change and contributes to poverty alleviation, creating tensions across societal efforts to maintain growth, limit climate damage, and improve human development. While many studies explore key aspects of this dilemma, few direct attention to the pathways from climate change through socioeconomic development to the future of poverty. We build on projections of global temperature change (representative concentration pathways) and country-specific economic development (economic growth and income distribution across the shared socioeconomic pathways) to model how climate change may affect future poverty with the International Futures (IFs) model, projecting poverty across income thresholds for 175 countries through 2070. Central tendency scenarios with climate effects compared with scenarios that do not model climate change show that climate change-attributable extreme poverty will grow to 25 million people by 2030 (range: 18 to 30), 40 million by 2050 (range: 9 to 78), and 32 million by 2070 (range: 4 to 130) though overall levels of global poverty decline. If climatic tipping points are passed, the climate-attributable extreme poverty grows to 57 million people by 2030 (range: 40–72), 78 million by 2050 (range: 18–193), and 56 million by 2070 (range: 7–306). To mitigate baseline effects of climate change on extreme poverty, an improvement of global income inequality of 10% is required (range: 5–15%).