The overall cost of implementing the Paris climate deal between 2020 and 2050 could be offset by savings made from reduced air pollution-related deaths and diseases, a new study has said. It also said India and China are likely the biggest beneficiaries of mitigation efforts.
Published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, the study said that the two countries would benefit immensely from climate mitigation efforts because a large section of their populations is exposed to unacceptable levels of pollution.
The study estimates significantly fewer air pollution-related deaths between 2020-2050 globally. It says deaths can be reduced by 21-27 per cent (101-93 million) if the 2°C target were met.
The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement aims to reduce the impact of climate change by preventing the global average temperature from rising to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Nearly 195 nations have signed up to the deal, due to commence in 2020.
In the study, researchers combined several existing models to estimate emission levels, air pollution-related deaths and their costs, costs of climate change mitigation, and healthcare co-benefits for the US, EU-27, China, India, and the rest of the world. (Read Climate change has resulted in substantial reduction of the country’s coral cover and growth: WWF)
They modelled the impacts of doing nothing, continuing the current country-level policies, and three different strategies to implement and fund the historic Paris agreement.
The study said the current country-level strategies could cost USD 7.5 trillion and potentially lead to 5 per cent fewer air pollution-related deaths globally between 2020-2050, compared to no mitigation strategies being in place. It estimated 128 million deaths for no mitigation as against 122 million using country-by-country interventions.
The study said under the Paris deal the cost increases are likely to be smallest for the US and EU, and largest for the rest of the world, India, and China.
“Overall, the costs of the implementing the Paris Climate Agreement ranged from 0.5-1 per cent of global GDP or USD 22.1 trillion-USD 41.6 trillion for the 2°C target,” it said.
The study said India and China were likely to see the biggest health savings from improved climate change mitigation under the three scenarios it has proposed.
India can retain almost 43 per cent and China 55 per cent in health savings “in all scenarios”, the study said. “This is because these countries have large populations, many of whom are exposed to higher than acceptable pollution levels.”
Additionally, it pointed out that the cost of setting any climate change mitigation policies in India and China would be compensated by just the health savings made in most scenarios.
“We hope that the large health co-benefits we have estimated for different scenarios and countries might help policymakers move towards adopting more ambitious climate policies and measures to reduce air pollution, and to consider how to share the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution-related disease,” said study co-author Anil Markandya of the Basque Centre for Climate Change, Spain.