Technical Network on Poverty Analysis (THINK-PA)

Webinar presents important findings from a study on the impact of global warming on poverty and inequality


An insightful webinar carried out on 4 May 2023 by the FAO Technical Network on Poverty Analysis (THINK-PA), revealed the distressing results of a research entitled “Does hotter temperature increase poverty and inequality? Global evidence from subnational data analysis”. Experts from the World Bank and Monash University have uncovered evidence of the detrimental effects of global warming on poverty and inequality. The findings highlight the urgent need for comprehensive actions to address this pressing issue.

Climate change threatens our society, spurring research into its economic effects on agriculture, labor, health, crime, and inequality. Studies reveal that it can hinder economic growth, especially affecting the less affluent, deepening global disparities. Challenges in studying climate change's poverty impact stem from limited data in poorer regions. To address this, we need finer-scale, subnational data for a nuanced understanding of its effects on poverty and inequality.

According to the authors of the new study, a modest increase of 1ºC in temperature can result in a 9.1 percent rise in the poverty headcount, as measured by the USD 1.90 daily poverty line. Additionally, the research reveals that such temperature increments contribute to a 1.4 percent increase in the Gini inequality index, emphasizing the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.

To achieve these conclusions, the authors analyzed approximately 1 600 subnational areas in 134 countries from 2003 to 2019, using the new Global Subnational Atlas of Poverty, which incorporated poverty headcounts based on various World Bank poverty lines, including the USD 1.90, USD 3.20 and USD 5.50 thresholds. Furthermore, it encompasses a range of inequality indicators, providing a comprehensive understanding of multifaceted variables.

The study emphasizes that relying solely on country-level analysis fails to capture the true magnitude of the consequences associated with climate change and therefore highlights the importance of analyzing statistics at the subnational level. This underscores the need for a granular approach when formulating policies and interventions to tackle the far-reaching implications of rising temperatures.

While the immediate effects of temperature increases are alarming, the research also highlights the significance of long-term implications. Over time, households seem to adapt to permanent changes in weather conditions, leading to smaller yet still noteworthy effects. This suggests the importance of fostering resilience and equipping communities with adaptive strategies to mitigate the long-term consequences of global warming.