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Publication Date
27 December 2023

Compounding Uncertainties in Economic and Population Growth Increase Tail Risks for Relevant Outcomes Across Sectors



Understanding the long‐term effects of population and GDP changes requires a multisectoral and regional understanding of the coupled human‐Earth system, as the long‐term evolution of this coupled system is influenced by human decisions and the Earth system. This study investigates the impact of compounding economic and population growth uncertainties on long‐term multisectoral outcomes. We use the Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM) to explore the influence of compounding and feedback between future GDP and population growth on four key sectors: final energy consumption, water withdrawal, staple food prices, and CO2 emissions. The results show that uncertainties in GDP and population compound, resulting in a magnification of tail risks for outcomes across sectors and regions. Compounding uncertainties significantly impact metrics such as CO2 emissions and final energy consumption, particularly at the upper tail at both global and regional levels. However, the impact of staple food prices and water withdrawal depends on regional factors. Additionally, an alternative low‐carbon transition scenario could compound uncertainties and increase tail risk, particularly in staple food prices, highlighting the influence of emergent constraints on land availability and food‐energy competition for land use. The findings underscore the importance of considering and adequately accounting for compounding uncertainties in key drivers of multisectoral systems to enhance our comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of multisectoral systems. The paper provides valuable insights into the potential implications of compounding uncertainties.

Kanyako, Franklyn, Jonathan Lamontagne, Abigail Snyder, Jennifer F. Morris, Gokul Iyer, Flannery Dolan, Yang Ou, and Kenneth Cox. 2023. “Compounding Uncertainties In Economic And Population Growth Increase Tail Risks For Relevant Outcomes Across Sectors”. Earth's Future 12 (1). American Geophysical Union (AGU). doi:10.1029/2023ef003930.
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