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January 17, 2020

Rising temperatures threaten outdoor workability

Business

January 17, 2020

KARACHI: Socioeconomic risks could increase significantly for those living in urban areas of Pakistan and India by 2050 as heat waves push up against the limits of human endurance and survivability, McKinsey warned in a report on Thursday.

Countries with lower per capita gross domestic product (GDP) rely more on outdoor work and natural capital, and thus have less financial means to adapt quickly, the consultancy’s research arm, the McKinsey Global Institute said.

Also, hot and humid countries like Pakistan are expected to become significantly hotter and more humid by 2050. This would impact workability in urban settings, and the report expects an average ten-percentage-point loss in annual share of effective outdoor working hours in heat-exposed regions between today and 2050.

“Poorer regions often have climates that are closer to physical thresholds,” the report said, adding that as heat gets worse, productivity could tumble.

Reliance on outdoor work could also be severely affected because of heat waves, as well as increasingly hot and humid climate. Pakistan’s projected GDP of 4.0 percent could be at risk annually with rising temperatures, forcing people already at their physical threshold to cut the number of working hours.

Agriculture, an outdoor sector has a significant share in the economy.

Agriculture contributes 18.5 percent to Pakistan’s GDP, providing employment to 38.5 percent of the national labour force, but it remains a backward sector of the economy. The government already recognises high performing agriculture as key for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The report suggests sectoral shifts in national economy could reduce the impacts of outdoor work on the GDP, especially in countries like Pakistan. “The pace of sectoral shifts in national economies will strongly influence GDP outcomes and drive the range in the GDP at risk.”

The report aims to help inform decision makers around the world so they can better assess, adapt to, and mitigate the physical risks of climate change.

It points to the risks in workability and liveability both, as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, with lower per capita GDP level were the most affected countries under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Under an RCP 8.5 scenario, urban areas in parts of India and Pakistan could be the first places in the world to experience heat waves that exceed the survivability threshold for a healthy human being, with small regions projected to experience a more than 60 percent annual chance of such a heat wave by 2050,” the report noted.