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Brian O'Neill - NCAR NESL/CGD & ISP/IAM
The effect of education on challenges to climate change mitigation and adaptation
Changes in the demographic and socio-economic compositions of populations are relevant to the climate change issue because these characteristics can be important determinants of the capacity to adapt to climate change impacts as well as of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Here we explore the implications of future changes in educational attainment both for emissions and for the vulnerability of populations to climate impacts, as measured by the human development index (HDI). The net effect of education on emissions is ambiguous: emissions may be increased due to the stimulus to economic growth, or they may be decreased due to lowering fertility. While better education will improve the HDI, the magnitude and regional distribution of this effect is unclear. We employ a multi-region, multi-sector computable general equilibrium model of the world economy, driven with a new set of country-specific projections of future educational composition, to test the net effect of education on developing country regions. We find that improved education tends to lead to higher emissions by the middle of the century, but lower emissions by the end of the century. The HDI is increased in all regions, but with differential benefits from improvements in education, income, and life expectancy.