What would climate policies look like if they mirrored the COVID-19 response?

According to a new report supported by EIT Climate-KIC, by acting on climate change now, the cost of saving a life would be two to three times lower than saving a life during the pandemic. The report from the 2° Investing Initiative (2DII) programme, 1in1000, also shows policymakers’ continued lack of action on climate change essentially discounts future lives by an estimated 1.7 per cent annually, implying that a life in 2050 is worth 39 per cent less than a life today.

The report, “The value of life: What would climate policies look like if they mirrored the COVID-19 response,” is part of a series of ‘thought experiments’ by 2DII and comes on the heels of its recent research with the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group, University of Oxford, which found that the financial sector could face $150 billion per year in additional losses when climate action by companies is delayed.

“The value of life: What would climate policies look like if they mirrored the COVID-19 response” uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a case report and applies lessons from government response to the pandemic to the climate crisis and related potential policy measures. While COVID-19 and climate change are not perfectly analogous, they share two key similarities: Their systemic impact on economic systems and society, and their preventability. Critically, human actions can significantly mitigate the impacts of both the pandemic and climate change – by preventing the risk from materialising in the first place, as well as by strengthening resilience when the risk materialises.

This analysis is the first of its kind, bringing together different research on the costs of pandemic preparedness, climate policy interventions and potential benefits measured in statistically saved lives.

 

Key questions explored:

  • What are the relative costs of preparing now versus reacting later to systemic crises like pandemics or climate change?
  • How equitable is the related burden sharing of these costs?
  • What were the relative costs of saving a life in the pandemic versus the estimated relative costs of saving a life by mitigating the climate crisis?
  • What does policymakers’ willingness to prevent a statistical death today tell us about how they value current and future global climate mortalities?

 

Key takeaways:

  • For both COVID-19 and climate change, a preparedness strategy (i.e., to prevent a risk from materialising) is about three to four times cheaper in terms of lives saved than a reactive strategy.
  • The costs of preparedness measures are more evenly distributed among society than the costs of reactive measures.
  • For the COVID-19 pandemic, a preparedness strategy came too late – but it is not too late for the climate crisis. By acting now on climate change, the cost of saving a life would be two to three times lower than what it cost during the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting the significant cost effectiveness and utility of being prepared.
  • Because current policies as outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions fall short of the Paris Agreement climate goals, this suggests that policymakers de facto discount future lives by an estimated 1.7 per cent annually. According to their revealed preferences, this means that a life in 2050 is worth 39 per cent less than a life today.

 

Proposed solutions:

  • Steering policymakers’ incentives towards the future
  • Bringing the future into today’s decision-making frameworks
  • Taking the preferences of future generations into account

 

“The value of life: What would climate policies look like if they mirrored the COVID-19 response” is available online:

Read the full report

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 12: Foster bankable green assets in cities
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate acti...

Scotland’s largest city region is actively tackling climate change...

Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate action
In The News
Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe

EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative...

Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme

EIT Climate-KIC is launching Circularity Thinking courses to tackle...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster

EIT Climate-KIC selected four cleantech start-ups to be part...

EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster
In The News
Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage

Climate change is going to get worse, but curbing global warming is...

Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage
In The News
EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners

Supported by the EIT Community, the New European Bauhaus...

EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate clima...

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of...

EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate climate innovation in the agri-food sector
In The News
Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambit...

Climate Lab in Vienna will give climate actors an...

Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambitions
In The News
Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report

On 28 February, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)...

Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report
In The News
EIT launches new Global Outreach website

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT launches new Global Outreach website
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups

Working on transformative, systemic innovation to accelerate a net-zero...

EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups
In The News
Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Awar...

Do you want to support innovative solutions that integrate...

Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Award
In The News
Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storag...

Brill Power, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has launched the...

Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storage capacity
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop delivered a talk,...

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk
In The News
Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek mar...

To tackle complex climate challenges, we need a broader...

Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek maritime sector
In The News
EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Instit...

Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation...

EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Institutions
In The News
Dolomites forging climate resilience

The Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are...

Dolomites forging climate resilience
In The News
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with...

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan
In The News
Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable co...

The built environment accounts for close to 40 per...

Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable construction in cities
In The News
The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate in...

Glasgow, 8 November – The California Governor’s Office of...

The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate innovation
In The News
COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global I...

A new digital Global Innovation Hub has been launched at...

COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global Innovation Hub
In The News
ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners

EIT Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad – the world’s largest green business...

ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners
In The News
EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended

EIT Climate-KIC has launched a call for ideas on...

EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators

The EIT Climate-KIC Week of Action will celebrate, recognise...

EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses

As companies and practitioners around the world are looking...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses
In The News
NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-ze...

Starting in October 2021, the new project NetZeroCities will...

NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-zero emissions by 2030
In The News
In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her...

In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President von der Leyen