The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy

Noah Scovronick, Mark Budolfson, Francis Dennig, Frank Errickson, Marc Fleurbaey, Wei Peng, Robert H. Socolow, Dean Spears, Fabian Wagner

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Abstract

The health co-benefits of CO 2 mitigation can provide a strong incentive for climate policy through reductions in air pollutant emissions that occur when targeting shared sources. However, reducing air pollutant emissions may also have an important co-harm, as the aerosols they form produce net cooling overall. Nevertheless, aerosol impacts have not been fully incorporated into cost-benefit modeling that estimates how much the world should optimally mitigate. Here we find that when both co-benefits and co-harms are taken fully into account, optimal climate policy results in immediate net benefits globally, overturning previous findings from cost-benefit models that omit these effects. The global health benefits from climate policy could reach trillions of dollars annually, but will importantly depend on the air quality policies that nations adopt independently of climate change. Depending on how society values better health, economically optimal levels of mitigation may be consistent with a target of 2 °C or lower.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2095
JournalNature communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Scovronick, N., Budolfson, M., Dennig, F., Errickson, F., Fleurbaey, M., Peng, W., Socolow, R. H., Spears, D., & Wagner, F. (2019). The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy. Nature communications, 10(1), [2095]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09499-x