According to a new study by Dr. Taikan Oki, former Senior Vice-Rector of United Nations University with headquarters in Japan, the Paris Agreement’s climate change goals are only financially feasible if non-market factors like human health and biodiversity loss are prioritized. The study was published in the academic journal Environmental Research Letters by IOP Publishing.
The new study offers a cost-benefit analysis of climate change that considers previously ignored non-market factors like biodiversity loss and the impact on human health. It is the result of a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort from researchers at 23 institutions, including The University of Tokyo, the National Institute for Environmental Studies, and Kyoto University.
The researchers estimated the entire cost, including mitigation, to be 46–230 trillion US dollars between 2010 and 2099 after calculating the cost of climate change for several priority systems.
The findings demonstrate that the cost of mitigation initiatives and the financial rewards of preventing climate change are frequently comparable. While the financial advantages of these reduction initiatives vary from 23 to 145 trillion US dollars, the study team estimates that future mitigation activities will cost between 45 and 130 trillion US dollars.
They determined that a larger focus must be placed on the future effect of biodiversity and health considerations, stating that these aspects would become increasingly more important in the future for the 2 °C temperature goal to be economically realistic.
According to the study, it would be ideal to handle climate change holistically, taking into account both economic and health concerns. This is particularly true when non-market values are fully included, such as health issues like malaria and diarrheal diseases, as well as the dwindling number of species on Earth, such as fish and insects.
The world’s pursuit of climate goals is currently not on track. Our future will depend on how much importance we place on risks such as large-scale irreversible events, as well as how we accept and deal with them. One reason for this is that the costs of mitigation are often similar to, or in excess of, the economic benefits of reducing climate change. We must place a higher priority on non-monetary commodities such as human health and biodiversity and accelerate technological innovations to reduce the mitigation cost.
Dr. Taikan Oki, Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo
Oda, T., et al. (2023) Total economic costs of climate change at different discount rates for market and non-market values. Environmental Research Letters. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/accdee.