Climate change poses an existential threat to the global economy. While there is a growing body of literature on the economic consequences of climate change, research on the link between climate change and sovereign default risk is nonexistent. We aim to fill this gap in the literature by estimating the impact of climate change vulnerability and resilience on the probability of sovereign debt default. Using a sample of 116 countries over the period 1995–2017, we find that climate change vulnerability and resilience have significant effects on the probability of sovereign debt default, especially among low-income countries. That is, countries with greater vulnerability to climate change face a higher likelihood of debt default compared to more climate resilient countries. These findings remain robust to a battery of sensitivity checks, including alternative measures of sovereign debt default, model specifications, and estimation methodologies.
Climate change is already a systemic risk to the global economy. While there is a large body of literature documenting potential economic consequences, there is scarce research on the link between climate change and sovereign risk. This paper therefore investigates the impact of climate change vulnerability and resilience on sovereign bond yields and spreads in 98 advanced and developing countries over the period 1995–2017. We find that the vulnerability and resilience to climate change have a significant impact on the cost government borrowing, after controlling for conventional determinants of sovereign risk. That is, countries that are more resilient to climate change have lower bond yields and spreads relative to countries with greater vulnerability to risks associated with climate change. Furthermore, partitioning the sample into country groups reveals that the magnitude and statistical significance of these effects are much greater in developing countries with weaker capacity to adapt to and mitigate the consequences of climate change.