World Bank: Climate-smart development good for well-being, health and growth

Climate-smart development

New report shows the multiple benefits of pursuing climate-smart development policies. Creative Commons: 2007

Climate-smart development policies can slash greenhouse gas emissions, while improving quality of life, saving lives and creating jobs, according to a report published today by the World Bank and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Climate impacts are already being felt, and will impose undeniable burdens on food, water and health, but the report shows that policies focused on improving energy efficiency, waste management and public transport can help mitigate the worst of these effects.

It examine six regions – the US, the EU, Mexico, Brazil, India and China, and analysed polices including a 30-45% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency, reducing the energy consumption of industrial sectors by up to 53% and up to a 28% improvement in the energy intensity of buildings.

According to the World Bank, such policies could bring huge annual benefits by 2030, including avoiding 94,000 premature pollution-related deaths, reducing crop losses, avoiding 8.5 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions and saving almost 16 billion kilowatt hours of energy – the same as taking 2 billion cars off the road.

Additionally, such policies could also generate an estimated annual GDP growth of between $1.8 trillion and $2.6 trillion by 2030.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change said:

Governments should take a close look at the evidence in this report. It reinforces the economic case for action over inaction on climate change. The report shows that climate action does not require economic sacrifice or, put differently, good economic stewardship can reap huge climate rewards.

In total, the three policies, across the six regions could account for a 30% of the total emissions reductions needed by 2030 to limit global warming below the internationally agreed 2°C danger threshold.

It shows a promising path for countries striving to push through local development priorities while also pursuing climate-resilient and low carbon growth.

The report also looked at the benefit of scaling up several existing projects in the developing world: bus rapid transit in India; solid waste management in Brazil; agricultural waste management in Mexico; and a potential scenario of clean cookstoves in China.

It found the aggregate benefits of such policies could include over a million lives saved, around 1-1.5 million tonnes of crop losses avoided, and some 200,000 jobs created.

These policies would also reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by 355 million to 520 million tonnes – roughly equal to shutting down 100 to 150 coal-fired power plants.

The report comes ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September where governments are expected to pledge their commitment to strong climate action in the years ahead, and to agree new policies to tackle climate change.

The summit is expected to see declarations in the form of sectorial or regional pledges – of the kind analysed in the latest World Bank report – rather than economy-wide cuts in emissions.

At the launch of the Adding up the Benefits report, World Bank President Jim Young Kim said the summit will provide a “critical opportunity for world leaders to be on the right side of history to champion ambitious action that not only cuts carbon pollution, but also delivers jobs and economic opportunity.”

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