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Casualties of global warming: QLD and NT bear brunt of declines in health and productivity

Posted by gmarkets on 9 October, 2007

According to Siobhain Ryan, some of Australia’s biggest greenhouse polluting industries, such as coal, iron and steel, and agriculture, could see major cuts to their output by 2050 if no action was taken to contain global warming, reported The Australian (5/10/2007, p. 7).

All-round declines: The findings, from the Aus­tralian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), showed that Australia’s farming produc­tivity was likely to be 10 per cent lower, iron and steel output 6 per cent lower, and coking and thermal coal output almost 8 per cent and 5 per cent lower respectively than they would otherwise be in 2050.

Health costs: ABARE’s own work forecast that Australian health and pro­ductivity would be among the casualties of global warming, with Queensland and the North­ern Territory bearing the brunt of declines in both. Sick days, less productive workers and higher government spending on healthcare were likely to shave about 3.5 per cent off Queensland and Northern Terri­tory’s annual gross output in 2050 under a no-action scenario.

Productivity down: Labour productivity would have fallen 5 per cent and health expenditure risen 10 per cent by the same date in the two juris­dictions. South Australia would also suffer disproportionately among the states because of its reliance on agriculture. Changes in pasture and crop growth, thermal stress, and rising pest control costs could combine to reduce the state’s gross output by more than 1 per cent in 2050.

Export problems: Dr Gunasekera, ABARE’s chief economist, said Austra­lia’s energy and resource sector’s strong export focus left it exposed to economic downturns overseas. Even the electricity industry could expect a 4 per cent drop-off in its 2050 output levels, despite the extra domestic demand for power as Australians turned their airconditioners on for longer. “Climate change will affect all sectors and it’s important for all sectors to improve their produc­tivity and maintain their trade competitiveness,” said Melanie Ford, manager of ABARE’s cli­mate change modelling section.

The Australian, 5/10/2007, p. 7

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