Highest climate ROI = family planning

Suppose you had $1 million to spend on tackling climate change. How would you spend it to get the best bang for your million bucks?

Would you spend it on stopping the slash-and-burn of forests? Perhaps on switching to nuclear energy? More energy-efficient buildings? Building cleaner power stations?

According to a recent paper by David Wheeler and Dan Hammer, climate change experts at the Center for Global Development, the answer is (drum roll): you would do much, much better to spend your money on a combination of family planning and girls’ education in developing countries.
That's Owen Barder, reporting on a Copenhagen Consensus-like analysis (in output, not methodology) on climate change mitigation. According to the analysis, the killer combo of family planning and girls' education is ~4x as cost effective as reducing deforestation, ~6x better than nuclear and almost 10x better than CCS.

An interesting thought explored in the comments is whether this would be more impactful in poor countries (high potential to reduce fertility but tiny per capita emissions) or rich countries (little unmet demand for family planning, but much larger carbon footprints). Apparently the two are similar (at least the U.S. is).

As Owen acknowledges, there are limitations to this approach, but at the very least this appears to be a solid analysis with a thought-provoking conclusion.

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