The paper assesses the extent to which local air pollution co-benefits can lower the cost of climate change mitigation policies in OECD and non-OECD countries and can offer economic incentives for developing countries to participate in a post- 2012 global agreement.
It starts by setting out an analytical framework to guide the literature review and the empirical work. The review of the literature on co-benefits focuses on the magnitude of co-benefits across different scales of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation efforts, and their distribution across developed and developing countries. It analyses the magnitude of the co-benefits of mitigation policies in terms of reduction in local air pollution and its implications for human health as well as the incentives that the co-benefits can give to countries to participate in an international climate change mitigation agreement.
The key findings are listed below.
Reductions in GHG emissions are found to induce large reductions in local air pollution (LAP) emissions, with potentially significant positive impacts on human health.
Co-benefits can be lower in developing countries than in the OECD area, as the cheapest GHG abatement opportunities in developing countries are initially found in the electricity sector, where the human health benefits from emission cuts appear to be smaller.
The monetary value that can be attached to the human health co-benefits depends on the value of statistical life (VSL).
In the medium run, the only benefits of GHG mitigation policies are the co-benefits, since the direct benefits of GHG mitigation policies in terms of avoided damage from climate change are expected to occur in the longer run.
Co-benefits alone may not provide sufficient participation incentives to large developing countries, not least because direct local air pollution control policies appear to be typically cheaper than indirect action via GHG emissions mitigation.
The paper further notes that, since co-benefits of climate change policies in terms of local pollution control accrue in the near term while benefits from climate change mitigation come over the longer run, co-benefits provide some incentives to participate into a climate change mitigation agreement by offsetting some share of GHG mitigation costs in the short term.
The paper concludes that there is a need for comprehensive treatment of co-benefits in terms of health, ecosystems, crop yields and climate impacts in the long-term. Macroeconomic assessment of co-benefits could be improved through the following measures:
integrated strategy assessments in a general equilibrium framework
inclusion of other pollutants (e.g. ozone) and indoor as well as outdoor air pollution.