Advantage Magazine: Pollution and Climate Change Special – Autumn 2021Wednesday 20 Oct 2021
Welcome to this Advantage Magazine issue on pollution and climate change…
In this issue...
Is NIMBYism driving up the cost of wind energy?
Clean water programmes can improve cognitive development
Exposed: The widespread societal costs of lead contamination
Floods, droughts, and wildfires have claimed headlines this summer, re-emphasising the importance of taking bold measures to stop global climate change. Against this backdrop, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties will convene in the UK this November. The UK has already set itself as a global leader, pledging to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050. But the path to net zero is uncertain. It will require efforts in all sectors of the economy and a shift in both policy and individual behaviour.
In this issue, we examine the costs of pollution and climate change and discuss the policies designed to tackle them. Stephen Jarvis asks how can we expand renewable wind energy given siting constraints. No one wants wind turbines in their backyards, so they end up in remote, and potentially ill-suited locations, substantially increasing the cost of deploying wind energy. Yet policies to incentivise the use of better locations are possible. Stella Carneiro uncovers loopholes in regulation designed to curb deforestation for cattle raising (a source of GHG) in the Amazon. Better monitoring will be needed to further disincentivise deforestation in the future.
One point of the UK government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution is green buildings. Nanna Fukushima shows that replacing house coal with a non-smoke emitting alternative between 1957 and 1973 significantly decreased infant mortality. Similar policies to improve air pollution in low- and middle-income countries could have huge effects.
There is no doubt tackling pollution and climate change will generate large benefits for society. Sonia Bhalotra explores the link between water decontamination and improved cognitive development. Jonathan Colmer investigates the intergenerational spillovers of clean air, while Ludovica Gazze discusses the classroom spillovers of lead exposure. Healthier children have better and more productive lives, and so do their children and grandchildren, as well as the peers they interact with.
And yet, in our Parting Shot, Andrew Oswald reveals sombre data on how much – or better said how little – Europeans care about environmental concerns. The articles in this issue show that action can be taken to tackle pollution and climate change. Encouraging people to act may be the biggest challenge of all.
Ludovica Gazze, Guest Editor