How climate change mitigation makes economic sense

Assessing the cost-effective role of reducing air pollution in strengthening climate policies

Published: 08/12/2015

There are strong immediate and domestic incentives to undertake greater mitigation efforts to limit global warming to 2°C, or to 1.5°C as many governments are calling for. Existing mitigation targets can be met and, in most cases, can be strengthened in a more cost-effective manner by properly accounting for the value of other economic and societal priorities  that come from cutting emissions, such as public health and energy security.

This Climate Action Tracker report focusses on a single example of such “co-benefits” - reduced mortality risk from lower levels of harmful air pollution, which causes respiratory illnesses, cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer. Within this limited scope, the paper presents three methods for assessing the cost-effectiveness of six major emitters’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

Our results show that the emissions gap in 2030 between governments’ INDCs and the 2°C temperature goal, currently around 17 GtCO2e,could be closed by 4.6 – 7.8 GtCO2e or 27-46%, without imposing additional economic burdens on those undertaking the additional effort. For the 1.5°C temperature goal, the larger emissions gap in 2030 of around 23 GtCO2e could be closed by 20-34%.