Climate change ‘to hit lifestyles’

THE erosion of wealth among the world’s middle class due to climate change is a threat to economic and social stability which could spur its one billion members to push for action on global warming, Swiss bank UBS Group AG (瑞銀集團) said.

In a study of middle-class consumption in 215 cities around the world, UBS analysts found spending priorities were noticeably different in cities most at risk from climate change such as Los Angeles (洛杉磯), Tokyo (東京) and Shanghai (上海).

In those top-risk cities, the middle class spent between 0.6 and 0.8 percent more on housing compared to the national average, and less on luxuries, entertainment and durable goods.

The report said middle-class households are already changing their lifestyles in the cities most exposed to hotter temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather such as storms and floods.

“More fear, less fun is how we might sum it up,” said the study.

In places with high risks of climate-related shocks, people spend more on the upkeep of their properties. And homes may decrease in value if certain places become less appealing to live, eating into wealth, the report said.

Efforts to adapt to changing climate conditions can also bring new costs.

In cities that suffer extreme heat, the middle-class is increasingly spending on air conditioning, the report noted.

But some types of adaptation can create “a negative feedback loop”, it warned. For instance, higher demand for air conditioning requires more electricity, which can lead to grid failure and increased planet-warming emissions.

In addition, there will be the need to rely on emergency government support when disasters strike, the report said.

(This article is published on The Student Standard on 15 January 2016)

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