The importance of health co-benefits in macroeconomic assessments of UK Greenhouse Gas emission reduction strategies

Jensen, Henning Tarp; Keogh-Brown, Marcus R.; Smith, Richard D.; Chalabi, Zaid; Dangour, Alan D.; Davies, Mike; Edwards, Phil; Garnett, Tara; Givoni, Moshe; Griffiths, Ulla; Hamilton, Ian; Jarrett, James; Roberts, Ian; Wilkinson, Paul; Woodcock, James; Haines, Andy
November 2013
Climatic Change;Nov2013, Vol. 121 Issue 2, p223
Academic Journal
We employ a single-country dynamically-recursive Computable General Equilibrium model to make health-focussed macroeconomic assessments of three contingent UK Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation strategies, designed to achieve 2030 emission targets as suggested by the UK Committee on Climate Change. In contrast to previous assessment studies, our main focus is on health co-benefits additional to those from reduced local air pollution. We employ a conservative cost-effectiveness methodology with a zero net cost threshold. Our urban transport strategy (with cleaner vehicles and increased active travel) brings important health co-benefits and is likely to be strongly cost-effective; our food and agriculture strategy (based on abatement technologies and reduction in livestock production) brings worthwhile health co-benefits, but is unlikely to eliminate net costs unless new technological measures are included; our household energy efficiency strategy is likely to breakeven only over the long term after the investment programme has ceased (beyond our 20 year time horizon). We conclude that UK policy makers will, most likely, have to adopt elements which involve initial net societal costs in order to achieve future emission targets and longer-term benefits from GHG reduction. Cost-effectiveness of GHG strategies is likely to require technological mitigation interventions and/or demand-constraining interventions with important health co-benefits and other efficiency-enhancing policies that promote internalization of externalities. Health co-benefits can play a crucial role in bringing down net costs, but our results also suggest the need for adopting holistic assessment methodologies which give proper consideration to welfare-improving health co-benefits with potentially negative economic repercussions (such as increased longevity).


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