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Journal Article

Air quality co-benefits of ratcheting up the NDCs


Rauner,  Sebastian
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Hilaire,  Jérôme
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Klein,  David
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Strefler,  Jessica
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Luderer,  Gunnar
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Rauner, S., Hilaire, J., Klein, D., Strefler, J., Luderer, G. (2020): Air quality co-benefits of ratcheting up the NDCs. - Climatic Change, 163, 3, 1481-1500.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23380
The current nationally determined contributions, pledged by the countries under the Paris Agreement, are far from limiting climate change to below 2 ∘C temperature increase by the end of the century. The necessary ratcheting up of climate policy is projected to come with a wide array of additional benefits, in particular a reduction of today’s 4.5 million annual premature deaths due to poor air quality. This paper therefore addresses the question how climate policy and air pollution–related health impacts interplay until 2050 by developing a comprehensive global modeling framework along the cause and effect chain of air pollution–induced social costs. We find that ratcheting up climate policy to a 2 ∘ compliant pathway results in welfare benefits through reduced air pollution that are larger than mitigation costs, even with avoided climate change damages neglected. The regional analysis demonstrates that the 2 ∘C pathway is therefore, from a social cost perspective, a “no-regret option” in the global aggregate, but in particular for China and India due to high air quality benefits, and also for developed regions due to net negative mitigation costs. Energy and resource exporting regions, on the other hand, face higher mitigation cost than benefits. Our analysis further shows that the result of higher health benefits than mitigation costs is robust across various air pollution control scenarios. However, although climate mitigation results in substantial air pollution emission reductions overall, we find significant remaining emissions in the transport and industry sectors even in a 2 ∘C world. We therefore call for further research in how to optimally exploit climate policy and air pollution control, deriving climate change mitigation pathways that maximize co-benefits.