Climate Change Modifies the Composition of Reefs

Corals devastated by climate change are being replaced naturally by other species such as gorgonians, which are less efficient in acting as a carbon sink.

ICTA-UAB launches the first master’s Degree in “Political Ecology. Degrowth and Environmental Justice”

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) launches the master’s Degree in “Political Ecology.

Pioneering study analyses the effects of forests on human health

A group of volunteers have participated in an experimental study conducted by the ICTA-UAB to analyse the potential health benefits of forests.

Marine Litter on Mediterranean Beaches Triples in Summer

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) analyses and quantifies the waste generated by tourists in eight islands of the Mediterranean as part of the European BLUEISLANDS project.

Mapping the Urban Vitality of Barcelona

Researchers at the UAB have mapped Barcelona and and 9 surrounding towns using a new methodology based on urbanism activist Jane Jacobs' ideas on how cities should be configured to become vital spaces: 25% of the area is classified as having high vitality.

Agricultural intensification not a “blueprint” for sustainable development

Social and ecological results of increased agricultural intensification are not as positive as expected.

Tracking the battles for environmental justice: here are the world’s top 10

Today is World Environment Day. Environmental conflicts should not be seen as disruptions to smooth governance, fixable with market solutions, technology or police bullets.

Green urban planning must consider social equity criteria

Cities that do not include social equity criteria into their political strategies to make their urban environment greener and more ecological will not achieve long-term sustainability and risk creating green enclaves only for the social elite.

The ICTA-UAB alerts of a new invasive Asian beetle pest in Catalonia that kills mulberry trees

A study by researcher of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Agriculture Víctor Sarto i Monteys has identified in the province of Barcelona the presence of a species from Asia that could spread through Europe.

More than 120 ICTA-UAB researchers addressed environmental challenges at a symposium, especially those arising from global and...

The Institut of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) organized its 1st Spring Symposium with the aim of addressing some of the main environmental and sustainability challenges.

Low-carbon energy transition requires more renewables than previously thought

A new study by ICTA-UAB analyzes the impacts on lifestyles of substituting fossil fuels for cleaner energies.

Are Farmers Who Belong to Local User Associations Better Adapted to Climate Change?

Droughts, floods and high temperatures derived from climate change are not the only threats that farmers with irrigated crops must face.

Climate Change Threatens World's Largest Seagrass Carbon Stores

Shark Bay seagrass carbon storage hotspot suffers alarming losses after a devastating marine heat wave, according to a study led by ICTA-UAB researchers.

Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

New Project to Link Extreme Weather Events, Atmospheric Biodiversity and Human Health

A new ICTA-UAB project led by researcher Jordina Belmonte will study the effects of extreme meteorological events on the biological biodiversity present in the atmosphere in order to predict changes in the environment and possible affectations on human health.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
Global climate treaty easier to negotiate if guided by Human Development Index

Date: 2018-02-22

Acords climàtics sota criteris de benestar

A study by ICTA-UAB concludes that agreements against climate change would be more attractive to rich countries if they were analyzed taking into account the Human Development Index, instead of GDP.

Most economic studies of climate change describe economic damages and climate policy costs in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The fear that these climate policies might result in a reduction in GPD growth could lead political leaders to dismiss its application, concerned that climate treaty might be very costly for their countries and curb economic growth. A new study conducted by Prof. Jeroen van den Bergh from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and published recently in Climate Policy proposes the use of an alternative indicator to GDP to assess the impacts of climate policies aimed at limiting global warming to 2ºC, in terms of human welfare.

Van den Bergh highlights that GPD is an inappropriate measure of social welfare, notably for rich countries. Empirical studies show that an increase in GPD per capita barely contributes to higher welfare or happiness. “This means that if climate change damages are measured as GDP loss, one may seriously overestimate the real costs of climate policy”, he states.

To find a fairer climate policy assessment, the new study proposes to replace GDP with the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI is seen as a much better representation of social welfare in both poor and rich countries, because it captures three factors that directly and indirectly contribute to welfare achievement: life expectancy, education and standard of living. As a result, the HDI has become the customary measure for judging (inter)national policies aimed at development and poverty reduction.

When observing empirical information on current HDI levels of countries, one finds that rich countries have stabilized in a narrow range of HDI values around 0.9 (on a scale from 0 to 1), whereas the lowest-ranked countries in Sub-Saharan Africa concentrate around a HDI value of 0.5.

The new study quantifies how much HDI welfare growth is possible under distinct greenhouse gas emission pathways for countries that jointly limit the global average temperature rise to 2°C. This is compared to a policy that maximizes world GDP. The results show that when measuring the impacts in terms of social welfare growth instead of economic impact (GDP), the HDI of poor countries and their emissions are allowed to increase under a business-as-usual development path until they reach a high level of HDI=0.8. However, countries with a high HDI (>0.8) must reduce emissions, which are found to be without severe consequences for their HDI. “The findings suggest that a fair climate agreement in this sense would be more attractive for rich countries under the HDI than the GDP frame”, says Jeroen van den Bergh. Moreover, it would allow poor countries to reach higher development levels while staying within the 2°C carbon budget.

This is the first study that shifts the narrative of climate policy evaluation from one of GDP growth to a message of improving social welfare, as captured by the HDI. This could make it easier for political leaders and climate negotiators to publicly commit themselves to ambitious carbon emission reduction goals that go beyond the Paris Agreement, needed to safeguard our planet against dangerous climate change.

ICTA's Activities