In the largest ever global expert survey published on the economics of climate change nearly nine in 10 leading global climate economists think climate change will deepen income inequality between rich and poor countries. 70% also anticipated that climate change would increase inequality within countries, widening the gap between the poorest and richest thirds of national populations.
The impacts of rising temperatures could create "enormous difficulties" for nations already burdened by economic challenges and high rates of poverty, said the research by New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity.
Nearly three-quarters said "immediate and drastic action" was needed to cut emissions.
Economists think governments may be underestimating the potential costs of climate change, such as the impact of extreme weather and economic disruption, as they weigh up the costs of policies to reduce emissions.
The most severe impacts will be felt in developing countries, due to factors such as higher dependence on agriculture and vulnerability to extreme heat, Derek Sylvan, the institute's strategy director and co-author of the survey, said, explaining the costs would be felt worldwide, due to spillover effects such as the disruption of trade routes and supply chains, and refugee crises caused by climate impacts.