What is the Impact of Air Pollution on the World- Present and Future?

The Economic Consequences of Outdoor Air Pollution (20 page pdf, OECD, Jun. 9. 2016)

Also discussed here: Air pollution to cause 6-9 million premature deaths and cost 1% GDP by 2060 (OECD Press Release, , Jun. 9. 2016)

Today we review a report from the OECD which estimates the impact of air pollution in terms of economic costs and on health costs and premature lives lost. Global costs are expected to rise from $21B in 2015 to $176B in 2060 (in constant 2010 dollars). The number of lost sick days which affects productivity is expected to rise from 1.2 B to 3.7 B in 2060. The number of premature deaths due to outdoor air pollution is expected to rise from 3 million in 2015 to 6-9 million in 2060. Policies to address this include incentives aimed at technology to reduce vehicle emissions, the implementation of improved air quality standards and introduction of emission/congestion/road pricing. The highest per capita costs are found in China, followed by Korea, Eastern Europe and the Caspian region and this is also where premature deaths per capita are highest.

oecd impacts

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Ontario’s Climate Action Plan from 2016 to 2020

Ontario’s Five Year Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020 (Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Jun. 8, 2016)

Also discussed here: Five things you need to know about how Ontario’s climate change action plan will affect your life (Financial Post, Jun. 8, 2016)

And here: Ontario’s climate change action plan: what it needs to succeed  (Mike Crawley, CBC News, Jun. 8, 2016)

ontario emissions 2013

Today we review Ontario’s first climate action plan with targets for the period 2016-2020. The planned GHG reductions fall within a plan to reduce overall emissions by 15% by 2020, 37% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 with most of the reductions coming from three sectors with 85% of current (2013) emissions: transportation (35%), industry (28%) and buildings (19%). Although Ontario is approaching carbon pricing in a different way (Cap and Trade) than British Columbia did 8 years ago using a revenue-neutral carbon tax,  a similar approach is to require all municipalities to produce a climate mitigation and adaptation plan. The BC approach is expected to reduce B.C.’s emissions in 2020 by up to three million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, roughly the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions created by 787,000 cars per year. Revenue from carbon tax itself $500M/year,  was returned to taxpayers who pay less than any other provincial taxpayers in Canada.  In addition, the serious way that Ontario is approaching the need for electric vehicles through incentives for new e-cars and for many new charging stations gives some assurance that both the carbon pollutants and toxic air emissions from today’s cars and trucks will be reduced.

  1. Under Transportation:
  • incentives for e-vehicles ($140-160M)
  • more charging stations ($80M)
  1. Under Buildings
  • Incentives for heat pumps and geothermal ($500-600M)
  • Free energy audits ($200-250M)
  1. Municipal Land Use Planning
  • greenhouse gas pollution reduction challenge fund or program.($250-300M)
  • make climate change mitigation and adaptation mandatory in municipal official plans.”
  1. R&D
  • Create a Global Centre for Low Carbon Mobility ($100-140M)

Other actions are planned for agriculture, industry and in collaboration with the federal government..


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How do Special Interests Hold Back Progress on Climate Change?

Dislocated interests and climate change (5 page pdf, Steven J Davis and Noah Diffenbaugh, Environmental Research Letters, May 31, 2016)

Today we review a very pertinent analysis of costs and benefits as applied to climate impacts and national (and corporate) interests and how the concentration of short term, local benefits is separated in time and space with longer term impacts. As a concluding sentence in the article reads: “the most problematic dislocations of interests are where benefits are concentrated in time, space, and parties”. Often too, the profits from fossil fuels accrue to corporations in developed countries while the impacts fall mainly on developing countries and governments. Attempts to recover these costs get bogged down in a lack of international mechanisms to deal with them either through the World Trade Organization, World Bank or the International Framework on Climate Change and climate agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 or the Paris Agreement of 2015 – all of which point to the need for a greater definition and recognition of these special needs in addressing climate change.

special interests and cl ch

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Limits to Growth – a critique after 40 years

Limits Revisited – A review of the limits to growth debate (24 page pdf, Tim Jackson and Robin Webster, Apr., 2016)

Today we review a report card on the 1972 Club of Rome report that looked ahead in 12 scenarios for the century ahead to examine the links between and among population, the economy, consumption of resources and pollution of the land, water and air. The indication that oil production would peak in 2015 if no corrective action were taken is strikingly accurate, given the shift now taking place in renewable energy production. On the other hand the report did not take into account the following ecological processes in regulating the environment: climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, interference with global nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, ozone depletion, global freshwater use, land system change, atmospheric aerosol loading and chemical pollution. Of these, four have deteriorated into an uncertain future: biodiversity loss, damage to phosphorous and nitrogen cycles, climate change and land use.


Although there are hopeful signs that economic growth may be decoupling from the environment with respect to reduced carbon emissions though technological innovations, the social burden continues to get worse with more than 3 billion people trying to live on less than $2 per day, as underlined by the encyclical by Pope Francis. An uncontrolled collapse is still possible, not from consuming all remaining natural resources but because of the degraded quality of those resources. As the report concludes: “an early policy response matters”.

graph limits

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

What is the Social Cost of Climate Change?

Expert Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change (41 page pdf, Peter Howard and Derek Sylvan, Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law, Dec. 2015)

Today we review a survey of 365 leading economists from around the world on the economic and social impacts of climate change and how they expect this cost will grow in the future. Most believed that there will net negative global impacts by 2025, hitting agriculture, fishing, utilities (electricity, water, sanitation), forestry, tourism/outdoor recreation, insurance, and health services. The social cost was projected to start at $100/metric ton in 2015, rising to above $300/ton in 2050 and this cost was suggested as a basis for carbon pricing to reduce emissions which most thought should be above $37/ton to start. Currently in Canada, the highest price put on carbon is in British Columbia at $30/ton (and frozen at that level for the last 3 years) with some provinces (Quebec, Ontario, Alberta)  setting it between $10 and 15/ton, leaving others with no price (Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces).

social cost by year from cl ch

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Modelling the Best Way to Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

2 °C and SDGs: united they stand, divided they fall? (16 page pdf, Christoph von Stechow, Jan C Minx, Keywan Riahi, Jessica Jewell, David L McCollum, Max W Callaghan, Christoph Bertram, Gunnar Luderer and Giovanni Baiocchi, Environmental Research Letters, Mar. 16, 2016)

Also discussed here: Short-sighted climate policy jeopardizes other UN sustainable development goals (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis News, Mar. 16, 2016)

Today we review the results from 7 “integrated” models which were used to assess 20 scenarios for each decade out to 2050 while considering the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and the agreement to limit global climate warming to 2 deg C, set out in the recent COP 21 conference in Paris. Some carbon emission reduction strategies have emphasized economic impacts alone, failing to take into account wider social and environmental implications.

Application of carbon pricing to transportation, for example, has a greater potential for lowering emissions in the near term because of the short turn-around needed for technological improvements (e.g. electric vehicles) and the quick responsiveness of users to fuel price changes. On the other hand, a major increase in energy prices can have major impacts on the poor in developing countries, unless their concerns are accommodated in some way.

Another significant finding from this research is the impact of delaying the reduction of energy while waiting for potential non carbon energy technologies to become cost effective and widely used, such as BioEnergy(BE), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). The modelling indicates that delaying climate mitigation in the short term, to give time for these technologies to emerge, leads to more risk and costs in the long term if the 2 deg goal is to be met.


To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

The Anthropocene and the Future

The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere (20 page pdf, MarkWilliams, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N.Waters, Matt Edgeworth, Carys Bennett, Anthony D.Barnosky, Erle C. Ellis, Michael A. Ellis, Alejandro Cearreta, Peter K. Haff, Juliana A. Ivar do Sul, Reinhold Leinfelder, John R. McNeill, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes, Andrew Revkin, Daniel deB Richter,Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, James P. Syvitski, Davor Vidas, Michael Wagreich, Scott L.Wing, Alexander P.Wolfe, and An Zhisheng, AGU Publications – Earth’s Future, Mar. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: Human impact forms ‘striking new pattern’ in Earth’s global energy flow (ScienceDaily, Mar. 23, 2016)

Today we review a geophysical history of the earth from the days when carbon and biological life were not present, through the evolution of the biosphere over 4 Billion years and photosynthesis to the advent of animal and plant life some 460 million years ago, modern humans 195, 000 years ago to the farming of land 10,000 years ago and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This history not only puts the significance of global climate change into context but it also shows the ways that man has literally changed the world.

anthrocene future

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