Targeted policies can compensate most of the increased sustainability risks in 1.5˚C mitigation scenarios

June 2018
Christoph Bertram, Gunnar Luderer, Alexander Popp, Jan Christoph Minx, William F Lamb, Miodrag Stevanovic, Florian Humpenoder, Anastasis Giannousakis, Elmar Kriegler
Environmental Research Letters, IOP Scinece

Meeting the 1.5 °C goal will require a rapid scale-up of zero-carbon energy supply, fuel switching to electricity, efficiency and demand-reduction in all sectors, and the replenishment of natural carbon sinks. These transformations will have immediate impacts on various of the sustainable development goals. As goals such as affordable and clean energy and zero hunger are more immediate to great parts of global population, these impacts are central for societal acceptability of climate policies. Yet, little is known about how the achievement of other social and environmental sustainability objectives can be directly managed through emission reduction policies. In addition, the integrated assessment literature has so far emphasized a single, global (cost-minimizing) carbon price as the optimal mechanism to achieve emissions reductions.

Targeted policies can compensate most of the increased sustainability risks in 1.5˚C mitigation scenarios introduces a broader suite of policies—including direct sector-level regulation, early mitigation action, and lifestyle changes—into the integrated energy-economy-land-use modeling system REMIND-MAgPIE. The paper examines their impact on non-climate sustainability issues when mean warming is to be kept well below 2 °C or 1.5 °C. It finds that a combination of these policies can alleviate air pollution, water extraction, uranium extraction, food and energy price hikes, and dependence on negative emissions technologies, thus resulting in substantially reduced sustainability risks associated with mitigating climate change. Importantly, these targeted policies can more than compensate for most sustainability risks of increasing climate ambition from 2 °C to 1.5 °C.

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