Too hot to work: Vietnam to lose $85bn in labor productivity by 2030

By Ha Phuong   July 26, 2016 | 03:30 pm PT
“Work in the sun adds to the heat exposure and creates higher hourly losses.” 

The world is set to pay a dire price of $2 trillion by 2030 as adverse weather due to climate change hits global productivity, according to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.

Source: IPCC

Projected changes in global average temperatures under four emissions pathways (rows) for three different time periods (columns). Changes in temperatures are relative to 1986-2005 averages. RCP2.6 is a very low emissions pathway, RCP4.5 is a medium emissions pathway, RCP6.0 is a medium-high emissions pathway, and RCP8.5 is the high emissions pathway (emissions are assumed to continue increasing throughout the century). Source: IPCC

In South East Asia alone, outdoor workers, who already have to bear intense heat might not be able to take it by 2050 when intensity is set to double. Around 20 percent of annual work hours will be lost, the IPCC says. 

Most vulnerable groups include those working outdoors like farmers and construction workers. But even indoor factory workers without air conditioning as well as outdoor services like sports and tourism are going to be affected, according to a recent ILO report

For certain sectors such as mining, building, manufacturing, injury rates may increase with extreme heat entailing health and economic consequences for workers and employers, the ILO report added.

The heat would also drive demand for air conditioning in offices, shopping malls and homes, placing pressure on power supplies as well as the greenhouse effect from carbon emissions.

Such loss in productivity will then translate to loss in GDP. Asia Pacific, scientists say, is the most disaster-prone area of the world. China, Indonesia and Malaysia will experience deepest economic plunge because of heat stress, said Tord Kjellstrom, director at the Health and Environment International Trust. By 2030, China's GDP is projected to fall by 1 percent and Indonesia's by 6 percent. 

If the current climate policies continue, by 2100, the world could see a warming of 4 degrees, which translates to nearly 13 percent of day light work hours lost for Vietnam. 

Extreme heat, in fact, is already taking its toll on Vietnam. The country has lost nearly $670 million this year due to the worst drought in a hundred years in the Mekong Delta. 


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