The study finds that the health co-benefits significantly outweigh the policy cost of achieving the temperature goals under the Paris Agreement for all the scenarios.
Pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C could make economic sense in some scenarios and countries if health co-benefits are considered.
The UN is increasing its efforts to combat air pollution and climate change through initiatives such as BreatheLife 2030 and ‘Momentum for Change: Planetary Health’.
5 March 2018: A study titled, ‘Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study,’ has found that substantial health gains can be achieved from climate change mitigation action. Published in Lancet Planet Health, a series that contributes to defining and advancing planetary health worldwide, the report concludes that pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C could make economic sense in some scenarios and countries if health co-benefits are considered.
The study notes that achieving this goal will also result in millions fewer premature deaths.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92% of urban residents do not breathe safe air, and 6.5 million people die annually due to poor ambient air quality. The report outlines climate policy options, such as removing fossil fuel subsidies and implementing carbon taxes, which would have immediate and positive health and economic impacts. Such policies can improve health, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, redistribute wealth and stimulate employment. The study analyzes the extent to which health co-benefits would compensate the mitigation cost of achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement (2°C and 1.5°C) under different scenarios in which the emissions abatement effort is shared between countries.
Some countries, such as China and India, could justify strong mitigation efforts just by including health co-benefits in the analysis.
The study concludes that the health co-benefits significantly outweigh the policy cost of achieving the target for all the scenarios. In some of the mitigation strategies, the median co-benefits were double the median costs, with the health co-benefit to mitigation cost ratio ranging from 1:4 to 2:45, depending on the scenario. Some countries, such as China and India, could justify strong mitigation efforts just by including health co-benefits in the analysis. In those countries, the costs of reducing GHG emissions could be compensated with the health co-benefits alone. The proportion the co-benefits covered in the EU and the US could also be substantial: 7-84% and 10-41%, respectively.
In relation to pursuing the 1.5°C target, the report finds that this would generate a net benefit of US$3.28-8.4 trillion in India and of US$0.27-2.31 trillion in China. [Health Co-Benefits from Air Pollution and Mitigation Costs of the Paris Agreement: a Modelling Study] [SDG Knowlege Hub Story on Climate Action Bringing Health Benefits] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Lancet Commission Report Linking Pollution Control to SDG Implementation]
In related news, the UNFCCC and the Rockefeller Foundation have launched ‘Momentum for Change: Planetary Health,’ which seeks to balance the need for healthy communities with stewardship of natural ecosystems. The initiative complements other UN efforts to combat air pollution and climate change, including the BreatheLife 2030 campaign, a collaboration between the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the WHO, which helps cities measure and set targets for reducing air pollutants and GHG emissions. [UNFCCC Press Release] [BreatheLife 2030] [Momentum for Change: Planetary Health]