Study says climate action has health, economic benefits

If countries limit global warming to 2°C, more jobs will be created and fewer pollution-related deaths will take place
Study says climate action has health, economic benefits

More jobs and wealth would be created and fewer deaths would occur if major economies limit their global warming to 2°C, a new study says.

The report—Assessing the missed benefits of countries—analysed the emissions pledges made by countries before the Paris UN Climate Summit scheduled in December. The study was conducted by Germany-based NewClimate Institute which deals with research on action against climate change globally.

How Europe, US and China will benefit?

As part of the pledge, Europe has promised 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. This will create 70,000 full-time jobs, prevent around 6,000 premature pollution-related deaths and bring about a $ 35.56-billion cut in fossil fuel imports.

But if emissions were reduced by around 55 per cent, all these benefits would increase. It would mean $ 173-billion fuel savings, 420,000 clean energy jobs and 46,000 lives saved.

If the US is able to meet the 2°C target, it could prevent 20,000 premature deaths each year from air pollution. It would also create 180,000 full-time green jobs in the domestic renewable energy sector and save $ 160 billion each year from reduced oil imports. 

Putting China on this course would save over a million lives and create almost 2 million jobs.

Though March 31 was the deadline for developed countries to submit their climate pledges for the Paris conference, a few such as Japan, Canada and Australia failed to meet it. China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter also missed the deadline, but Beijing has publicly outlined its plans. 

Switzerland was the first country to formally communicate its contribution to the UN climate change deal by promising 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, news reports say.

“This report adds to the growing body of evidence that greater climate ambition means better health,” Anne Stauffer, the deputy director of the Health and Environment Alliance, a Belgium-based non-profit organisation, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

The study says that by preparing their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), countries have the opportunity to lay the foundation for a new climate agreement that sets the path towards maintaining temperature change below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.

“It is up to each country to determine an ambition level for their INDC that reflects national priorities, capabilities and responsibilities. When formulating their plans, countries can consider the additional incentives that come with taking more ambitious action. Rigorous accounting of co-benefits of mitigation actions could be one way to help tip the balance towards more ambitious INDCs,” the report reads.

Mitigation measures that reduce the use of fossil fuels can cut emissions of pollutants which have a variety of detrimental impacts on health and ecosystem, according to the study. A World Health Organization report says in 2012 one in eight of total global deaths, around 7 million people, happened as a result of air pollution exposure.

Effects of temperature rise

Global temperatures have already risen by 0.85°C since 1880, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

If temperatures continue to rise, the limits for human and environmental adaptation are likely to exceed in many parts of the world, a paper by the Royal Society, a London-based society for science, says. It has envisaged around half of the world’s current agricultural land becoming unusable, the sea level rising up to two metres and the extinction of about 40 per cent of species worldwide.

As climate changes, drier regions will become less habitable owing to increased drought and desertification. People would be expected to adapt to the new situation by shifting. However, this would result in a concentration of the human population, agriculture and remaining biodiversity in a contracting land area, leading to an increasing competition for land and water, it says. 

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