Action on climate change needed to create jobs, improve GDP and save lives, says World Bank

25th June 2014

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management


Renata Konadu

Climate change is damaging infrastructure, threatening coastal cities, depressing crop yields and hurting the poor, warns a new study from the World Bank and the Climate-Works Foundation. It also says that efforts to reduce global warming have been too slow and no one will escape the impacts of climate change without urgent mitigation action.

The study, entitled “Climate-smart development”, says world economies are under threat from global warming, but argues that more can be done to mitigate climate change through smarter policies and projects.

“Climate change poses a severe risk to global economic stability, but it doesn’t have to be like this,” said Jim Yong Kim, president at the World Bank. “We believe it’s possible to reduce emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity, while also cutting healthcare and energy costs.”

The study provides a framework for policymakers to better understand climate risks and presents a variety of scalable development solutions that can mitigate the impacts and deliver “significant climate benefits”.

Using a number of economic and scientific simulation modelling tools, such as the marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) and air quality source receptor matrices (TM5-FASST), the report identifies national policy changes across the transport, industrial and building sectors that could increase job opportunities, secure growth in GDP and slow the rate of climate change.

The study emphasises the need to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), such as methane, tropospheric ozone and black carbon (particulates), which are responsible for up 40% of current global warming. Focusing on SLCPs can slow the rate of near-term global warming and push back dangerous “tipping points”, says the report, allowing more time for the world’s poorest people to adapt to the changing climate.

It warns that too often the environment and health-related benefits are left out of the economic analysis, which can leave decision-makers with an incomplete assessment of the full impacts and benefits of proposed development projects. The new simulation modelling tools used in the report are designed to provide a more holistic assessment of the full costs and benefits.

Several simulated projects from the EU, the US, China, India, Mexico and Brazil were analysed to assess the mitigation benefits of shifting policies to clean transport, more energy efficient buildings and improved industrial energy efficiency. Summary results indicate that the annual benefits from just three policy shifts indicate a reduction in CO2e emissions of around 8.5 billion tonnes in 2030. In addition, GDP growth is forecast at between $1.8 and $2.6 trillion, while approximately 94,000 premature pollution-related deaths would be avoided.

Launching the new study. Rachel Kyte, vice president and special envoy for climate change at the World Bank, said: “This study makes the case for actions that save lives, create jobs, grow economies and, at the same time, slow the rate of climate change. We place ourselves and our children at peril if we ignore these opportunities.”

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