This decade is on track to be the hottest on record, and heatwaves are only set to become more frequent and intense as climate change takes hold. Heat stress presents a growing threat to human health and economic productivity globally, while driving greater energy demand for cooling.
This research identifies four regional hotspots – West Africa, Central Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and South East Asia – where, without adaptation, rising heat stress will drive labour capacity losses in key sectors, with the potential to substantially undermine their export economies. Using projected daily temperatures from Heat Stress Indices for the period 1980-2045 and data on the current sectoral composition of export economies, this paper estimates countries’ export value at risk due to rising rates of heat stress associated with climate change. Heat stress can reduce worker productivity by causing dehydration and fatigue, leading to slower work and, in extreme instances, death.
This paper also investigates which parts of the world face the greatest increase in energy demand for cooling and where demographic trends and limited power system resilience could put supplies at risk. Using Cooling Degree Days indices this paper identifies locations expected to see the greatest increase in energy demand for cooling over the next 30 years. Cooling degree days are a measure of how far (in degrees) and for how long (in days) the outside temperature is above a threshold temperature, and can be used to estimate energy demand for cooling.