The Economics of Planetary Boundaries

Time period: 2020-12-01 to 2024-11-30

Project leader: Daniel Spiro

Other personnel: Sarah Cornell, Steven Lade, Gustav Engström, Peter Jörgensen, Johan Gars, Arthur van Benthem, Daniel Moran, Lint Barrage

Funder: The Swedish Research Council Formas

Type of award: Unclassified

Total fundning: 19 933 485 SEK

Human activities are pushing the Earth system beyond its “planetary boundaries”, risking catastrophic environmental change. Action is urgently needed, yet well-intentioned policies designed to reduce pressure on a single boundary can, through economic feedbacks, lead to aggravation of other pressures. Furthermore, since the agricultural sector is a major source of environmental change, environmental policies may lead to increased food prices thus more hunger. To this end, we ask the grand question: which policies would keep humanity within the planet’s safe operating space while meeting other Sustainable Development Goals?To answer this question, we will develop and quantify an economic-environmental integrated assessment model (IAM) for the analysis of the nine planetary pressures and policies to ease them. This is a truly interdisciplinary task. Thus our team consists of economists and environmental scientists.The output of the project will be an IAM, made available through an online tool, for policy makers and researchers to use for analysis. Numerous research articles both in economics and environmental science will be generated answering questions like: What would be the impact on the planetary pressures if we solve the climate and hunger problem simultaneously? What is the effect on the planetary pressures of directing technical change towards agriculture? How should the energy system be changed in order to enable economic growth within the planetary boundaries?