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Climate-Driven Heat Stress Could Put 80 Million Jobs at Risk by 2030, UN Agency Warns

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Heat stress caused by climate change could put the equivalent of 80 million jobs at risk by 2030, with poor countries facing the most serious impacts, according to an International Labour Organization (ILO) report released Monday.

“A temperature rise of 1.5°C by the end of century could lead to a 2.2% drop in working hours—equal to 80 million full-time jobs—costing the global economy US$2.4 trillion” by 2030, the Thomson Reuters Foundation explains. “The ILO said people would be unable to work due to the health risks posed by higher temperatures.”

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“The impact of heat stress on labour productivity is a serious consequence of climate change, which adds to other adverse impacts such as changing rain patterns, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity,” said ILO research unit chief Catherine Saget. “In addition to the massive economic costs of heat stress, we can expect to see more inequality between low- and high-income countries and worsening working conditions for the most vulnerable, as well as displacement of people.”

The World Health Organization expects climate-driven heat stress to cause 38,000 extra deaths per year between 2030 and 2050.

“Agricultural workers –especially women, who make up the bulk of the 940 million labourers in the sector—will be most affected, the ILO said, accounting for about 60% of all working hours lost due to heat stress by 2030,” Thomson Reuters states. “If global temperatures rise as predicted, the construction industry will account for about 19% of lost working hours, with the poorest countries in Southeast Asia and west Africa worst hit.” The impacts will also extend to the transport, tourism, sport, and industrial sectors.

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