Effects of climate change on life expectancy and consumption level in Bolivia: the poorest population affected by climate changes observed over the last 60 years

Ph.D. Lykke Andersen, Senior Researcher at Fundación INESAD and Director of the Center for Environmental-Economic Modeling and Analysis (CEEMA), presented on November 26 the paper “Social Impacts of Climate Change in Bolivia:  a municipal level analysis of the effects of recent climate change on life expectancy, consumption, poverty and inequality” in the presentation of Latin American Journal of Economic Development, No. 22.

The event was organized by the Social and Economic Research Institute of the Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” (IISEC-UCB) in the Main Auditorium of Block “G” of this academic institution.

The presented paper analyzes the direct evidence of climate change in Bolivia during the past 60 years, and estimates how these changes have affected life expectancy and consumption levels for each of the 311 municipalities in Bolivia. Contrary to the predictions of most general circulation models, the evidence shows a consistent cooling trend of about 0.2°C per decade over all highland areas, slight and scattered evidence of warming in the lowlands, and no systematic changes in precipitation.

The estimations indicate that the 1°C cooling experienced in the already cold highlands over the past five decades likely has reduced consumption possibilities by about 2-3 percent in these areas. Since the much richer population in the lowlands have benefitted slightly from recent climate change, the simulations suggest that recent climate change has contributed to an increase in inequality and poverty in Bolivia. Poor and indigenous peoples in the highlands are among the most severely affected populations. No statistically significant effect on life expectancy was found.

Dr. Andersen announced the wrong consideration of CO2 as an absolute threat, as this gas also has positive effects on vegetation, benefiting nature, and mankind, through agriculture.

The event was attended by representatives of IISEC-UCB, Fundación INESAD, Society of Bolivian Economists (SEBOL), Bolivian Academy of Economic Sciences (ABCE) and others. After Andersen’s lecture, Enrique García Ayaviri, President of the Bolivian Academy of Economics (ABCE) closed the event with a short speech. Right after, all participants shared a wine of honor.

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