U.S. INDC achieves manifold economy-wide co-benefits

30 March 2015

Contacts for further information: Niklas Höhne, Thomas Day

Research by NewClimate Institute assesses the co-benefits achieved by the INDC of the U.S.

In November, the U.S. announced what could be in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for the new global agreement which governments are negotiating at the UN climate talks. All countries worldwide have agreed to submit their INDCs – national plans outlining climate action between 2020 and 2030 – ahead of the important Paris conference this December, where the new climate agreement is due to be agreed.

The main component of the announced U.S. INDC is the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28%, compared to emission levels in 2005. While the Climate Action Tracker reported in December 2014 that this target – taken together with offers put forward by the EU and China – are not by themselves consistent with the internationally agreed goal to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C, the offers do represent a significant improvement on the projections for current policies without the pledge and bring us closer to a trajectory with a safe climate future.

Illustrative research from NewClimate Institute shows that the U.S. INDC will achieve considerable economy-wide benefits compared to the trajectory implied by current policies, reduced fossil fuel combustion, health benefits from reduced air pollution, and the generation of green and decent jobs in the renewable energy sector.

The US INDC may decrease exposure to fine particulate matter by around 40% in 2030, compared to 2012. Fine particulate matter is the major contributor to outdoor air pollution, which is linked by the World Health Organisation to approximately one in eight deaths worldwide[1]. In doing so, the INDC may prevent around 7,000 premature deaths per year in the US in 2030, compared to the trajectory implied by current policies.

The US plan will also generate an additional 470,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the construction, installation, maintenance and operation of hydro, wind and solar electricity installations, nearly tripling the level of employment in this sector in 2012.

Furthermore, the INDC will improve energy security by significantly reducing demand for domestically produced coal (132 Mtoe reduction) and gas (91 Mtoe reduction) in 2030. Reducing the dependence on coal and gas has many potential benefits for the US. Resource scarcity is becoming a serious issue, and the costs of coal and gas production may increase as resources are sourced from increasingly remote areas.

Further details, along with methodological considerations, can be found in the full report.

[1] WHO 2014, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/air-pollution/en/