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Development of human health damage factors related to CO2 emissions by considering future socioeconomic scenarios

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Global warming is exerting a damaging effect on human health. This damage is not only influenced by future climate conditions but also projected economic development and population growth. That being said, there are no health damage factors related to CO2 emissions which take into account future socioeconomic scenarios in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). Thus, the purpose of the current research is to calculate human health damage factors based on the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRESs) developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


The procedure used to calculate the SRES-based damage factors is as follows. First, a framework was developed to calculate damage factors based on multiple parameters: rise in temperature, relative risk increase, mortality rate increase, rise in number of deaths, and disability-adjusted life year (DALY) increase. Secondly, these parameters were calculated for each individual SRES based on the relationship among the parameters and CO2 emissions, GDP, and population values of each scenario. Finally, the damage factor for each SRES was calculated by multiplying all the parameters that had been calculated based on the CO2 emission, GDP, and population data in the corresponding scenarios.

Results and discussion

Using this method, the human health damage factors for four SRESs (A1B, A2, B1, and B2) were calculated. The damage factors consisted of six different items: malaria, diarrhea, cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, coastal flooding, and inland flooding. The calculated results by scenario were 2.0 × 10−7, 6.2 × 10−7, 2.1 × 10−7, and 4.2 × 10−7 DALY/kg CO2, respectively. The damage caused by malnutrition is the greatest, followed by diarrhea. Regions of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East showed the highest damages due to their high damage from malnutrition and diarrhea. With regard to the differences among the four damage factors, the difference between the projected future mortality rate and DALY per death based on the future GDP per capita is greater than the difference between the increases in temperature among scenarios dependent on future CO2 emission.


The human health damage factors related to CO2 emissions for four SRESs were estimated. As a result of differences between future socioeconomic scenarios, the largest amount of damage per CO2 emission unit was three times greater than the smallest amount. Therefore, sensitive analysis is highly recommended when seeking to compare damage caused by global warming and other impact categories.

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Correspondence to Longlong Tang.

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Tang, L., Ii, R., Tokimatsu, K. et al. Development of human health damage factors related to CO2 emissions by considering future socioeconomic scenarios. Int J Life Cycle Assess 23, 2288–2299 (2018).

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