The environment, the global economy and climate change
The economy and the environment are closely entwined. Many economic activities have an environmental impact. Burning coal, oil and gas can contribute to climate change, while waste from factories can pollute our land, rivers and sea.
The environment can affect the global economy too. For example, the floods in Thailand in 2011 resulted in over $45 billion of economic losses. More positively, at the other side of the globe, the mangrove forests in Mexico provide storm protection and give support for fisheries and eco-tourism. These benefits have been estimated at $70 billion in financial terms.
Climate change is therefore a central issue to consider and is widely seen as one of the biggest threats to a sustainable future. The steady rise in human activity – and the subsequent greenhouse gas emissions – witnessed since the industrial revolution has already had a considerable and measurable impact on our planet.
Scientists estimate that global temperatures have risen by around 1°C since 1850. This figure could exceed 4°C by the end of this century if no action to limit emissions is taken.