Climate change & environmental damage: Examining five of the worst economic problems caused by worsening pollution

Climate change and the state of the environment are the most important and difficult challenges facing governments, businesses and individuals this century. Now the environmental risks posed by a developing climate are taking a toll. There needs to be careful management to reduce the impacts on the global economy that climate change, and environmental damage caused by changing weather patterns, will bring and some problems which won’t be preventable.

Key Questions Answered

– What is the likely impact of plastic waste on large companies?

– How are governments and businesses reacting to the growing pollution problems in major cities?

– What is the potential impact of rising sea levels on the major cities of the world?

– How will climate change impact food supply and what will be the knock-on effects?

– What role will coal play in the future of power generation as the world seeks cleaner sources of energy?


– The world’s major cities are recording high levels of dangerous pollutants, largely caused by governments encouraging the use of diesel over petrol powered vehicles. Manufactures are now improving designs; governments are seeking to grow alternatives

Reasons to buy


Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 2

Diesel’s bubble slowly bursting: Opportunity for cleaner fuel sources arising 2

Rising global coal demand creates contrasting impact on business 3

The Pacific Trash Vortex: Oceanic plastic pollution and the impact on business 3

Rising sea levels will impact the global economy making some cities uninhabitable 4

Climate Change and Food Security: The Global Threat 5

Diesel’s bubble slowly bursting: Opportunity for cleaner fuel sources arising 11

World cities are recording high levels of dangerous pollutants 11

Fines and bans will affect 50% of the European vehicle fleet 12

The move from petrol to diesel was encouraged by legislators 12

Manufacturers have used dirty tactics to keep up with rules 13

Some small signs that consumers are moving away from diesel 13

Manufacturers are improving their designs in readiness 15

Europe will become an attractive market for EVs and Hybrids 16

Rising global coal demand creates contrasting impact on business 18

Expensive energy creates contrast in industrial competitiveness with non-OECD nations 18

Low-cost coal continues to rule in non-OECD countries, helping industry 20

Cheap coal keeps prices down for consumers, encouraging use 21

Trump and coal: Dumping waste in water could harm unrelated industries 22

Impact of coal on fresh water has wider ramifications for economies 22

Environmental laws on coal helps renewable energy across the world 24

The pacific Trash Vortex: Oceanic Plastic pollution and the impact on business 25

The extent of oceanic plastic pollution is colossal, raising concerns about the use of plastic in the consumer society 25

Microbeads in the oceans could be making fish and marine life toxic, threatening numerous industries 26

Government policy on plastic waste is forcing companies to change, opening up fresh opportunities 26

Decline in plastic bag use prompted by government action increases demand for alternatives 27

Industry successfully turned UK government policy away from tough targets on non-recyclable plastic use 28

Growing influence of corporate responsibility the consequence of oceanic plastic pollution 28

New companies with innovative solutions to ocean plastic pollution enter the market 29

New technology seeks to solve environmental problems caused by waste plastic 30

Big industry: Dell converts ocean plastic waste into packing for laptops 31

Rising Sea Levels will impact the global economy making some cities uninhabitable 32

Current projections of sea level rise suggest disaster is looming 32

China and Netherlands heavily exposed to population displacement 33

US, China and India have billions of dollars of exposed assets 35

Sea level rises will affect inland areas too through river floods 36

Avoiding these problems is looking increasingly unlikely 36

Companies and governments need to make difficult decisions 38

Climate Change and Food Security: The Global Threat 39

Impact of climate change on agriculture is unevenly spread - tropical regions will suffer the most, threatening supplies 39

Crop yields around the world fail to keep pace as climate change sets in 40

Conditions demand a second ”˜green revolution’ - this time to create resilience against extreme weather events 41

Pesticide use in response to climate change harms food security throughout the world 42

Growing food insecurity is damaging economies and creating political strife 43

Agriculture in Africa is sensitive to the effects of climate change, potentially causing political and social mayhem 43

Desertification will get worse, harming food security, with the onset of climate change 44

Business action points 45

Appendix 46

Sources 46

Further Reading 47

Ask the analyst 48

About MarketLine 48

Disclaimer 48

List of Tables

List of Tables

Table 1: Coal and lignite production for OECD countries (Mt) 19

Table 2: Assets exposed globally to rising sea levels 35

List of Figures

List of Figures

Figure 1: Smog in Shanghai 2

Figure 2: Coal Briquettes 3

Figure 3: Plastic sea waste 4

Figure 4: Thames Barrier 4

Figure 5: Wheat crops 5

Figure 6: Pollution index in European cities 11

Figure 7: Deaths in Europe 2015 from Nitrous Oxide 12

Figure 8: Break down of fuel types in Europe in 2015 13

Figure 9: Break down of fuel types in Europe in 2016 14

Figure 10: Co2 Emissions by world region 1990-2015 million metric tons of carbon 15

Figure 11: Market share % of EVs & HEVs in Europe 2015-2016 16

Figure 12: Available new and used vehicles on Autotrader UK by fuel source March 2017 17

Figure 13: Energy intensity of GDP at constant purchasing power parities (koe/$ – 2005 prices) 18

Figure 14: OECD coal and lignite production (mt) 19

Figure 15: CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (MtCO2) 20

Figure 16: World coal consumption by region, 1980-2040 (forecast from 2013) in quadrillion Btu 21

Figure 17: US coal production (millions of ton) 22

Figure 18: Indian coal production (millions of ton) 23

Figure 19: Percentage share of renewables in energy production for OECD 24

Figure 20: Number of plastic packaged goods sold in G7 countries (billions) Forecast from 2016 25

Figure 21: 2015 UK fish catch weight (millions of kg) 26

Figure 22: Decline in plastic bag use six months after introduction of five pence charge 27

Figure 23: mmlbs Post-consumer Bottles Recycled / Used by Reclaimers in the United States 29

Figure 24: Gross plastic bottle recycling rate in the United States 30

Figure 25: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop 31

Figure 26: Observed sea level change mm per year 32

Figure 27: Population at risk from rising sea levels (millions of people) 33

Figure 28: Percentage of population at risk of displacement 34

Figure 29: Current population affected annually by river floods millions of people 36

Figure 30: Global Release of Carbon Dioxide excluding land-use change and forestry (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year) 39

Figure 31: Tanzania, millions of tonnes of wheat per hectare 40

Figure 32: Australian rice production, millions of tonnes per hectare 41

Figure 33: Global area of GE crops (millions of hectares) 42

Figure 34: Brazilian pesticide market ($bn) 43

Figure 35: Libyan Agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing value (LYDm) 44


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