New report shows economic benefits of climate-smart government policies

by Keith Collins - 26 June, 2014
The World Bank and ClimateWorks Foundation release a major report

The World Bank and ClimateWorks Foundation have released a major report that quantifies many of the economic as well as health and environmental benefits of climate-smart government policies.  The literature on climate change has been lacking the detailed economic analysis this report provides, although additional analysis remains to be done.

The report makes clear that addressing the issue of carbon dioxide is critical to mitigating climate change and improving global welfare. However, the report also stresses that without reducing the short-lived climate pollutants of black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons, many of the economic benefits of addressing global warming will be lost.

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants is a key to increasing global output, the report says.

“While efforts to reduce [carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases], despite some progress, have been slow,” the report states, “recent scientific evidence suggests that cutting so-called ‘short-lived climate pollutants,’ which are responsible for up to 40 percent of the current warming, can have immediate climate impacts. Complementary actions on greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants can slow the rate of near-term warming, push back dangerous tipping points and provide time to allow the world’s poorest people to adapt to the changing climate.”

Helena Molin Valdes, Head of the CCAC Secretariat, praised the report as a timely tool for expanding the world’s thinking on government policies regarding health, environment and climate. “The world is waking up to the benefits of addressing all forms of air pollution,” Valdes said, “but to date the focus has been primarily on climate and health benefits. While these benefits are critical, this report adds the important dimension of economic benefits. As partners of the CCAC, the World Bank and ClimateWorks Foundation have added immeasurably to discussion on this issue.”


The World Bank underlined the impact that international collaborations are having on the complex issues surrounding pollution and climate change. "Many of the benefits outlined in the report come from reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants," said Jane  Ebinger, Manager, Climate Change Policy, World Bank. "Aggressive action to cut black carbon, methane and other harmful emissions from entering the atmosphere offers significant development gains and climate impact. Partnerships like the Climate and Clean Air Coalition are playing an important role in tackling this issue."

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a partnership of more than 90 governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, the environmental community, and other members of civil society. The Coalition is government-led but is highly cooperative and voluntary. Short-lived climate pollutants are agents that have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere—a few days to a few decades—but also a warming influence on climate as well as, in many cases, detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.