Countries who limit emissions will gain much more than they lose

Countries stand to gain more than they would lose in economic terms from almost all of the actions needed to meet an agreed global warming limit of no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, according to a paper published by two research institutes at the London School of Economics.

It is the latest research to underscore the apparent economic gains from limiting emissions, which include new jobs and improved health, even before the benefits of preventing dangerous climate change are taken into account. “The majority of the global emissions reductions needed to decarbonise the global economy can be achieved in ways that are nationally net-beneficial to countries, even leaving aside the ‘climate benefits’,” says Fergus Green in his paper for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the LSE.  He cites improved air quality, increased energy efficiency and better energy security among the potential benefits to individual countries that more than justify the costs of cutting carbon emissions.

Furthermore, investments in low-carbon energy are likely to be more than paid back by the falling cost of renewable sources, such as solar and wind, and by reduced spending on fossil fuels, Green predicts. “All things considered, I conclude that there is a very strong case that most of the mitigation action needed to stay within the internationally agreed 2°C limit is likely to be nationally net-beneficial,” adds Green, who is also research adviser to the economist Lord Stern, author of an influential study on climate change.