Research Press Release

Ambitious climate policy worth billions in health benefits for the US

Nature Climate Change

February 23, 2016

If the US were to implement power and transport policies consistent with the recent Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of premature deaths could be prevented and billions of dollars saved, reports a paper published online in Nature Climate Change this week. The study notes, however, that the US will have to go well beyond its current planned reductions in emissions from both energy and transport to achieve this goal.

The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 countries last December, reaffirming their commitment to prevent global average temperatures rising by more than two degrees above preindustrial levels.

In the study, Drew Shindell and colleagues modelled the US public health benefits of implementing clean energy and transport policies tailored towards that international goal. They simulate scenarios where transport emissions are reduced by 75% and energy sector emissions by 63%. They find that such policies could significantly reduce emissions of damaging pollutants such as particulate matter and ozone, and that, compared to a business-as-usual scenario, clean energy and transportation policies would prevent around 295,000 premature deaths by 2030 (175,000 for energy and 120,000 for transport). They estimate that the benefits of implementing these ambitious policies outweigh the costs by up to a factor of ten, with the clean energy policies estimated to save the US economy up to US$800 billion, and clean transportation polices up to US$400 billion.

DOI:10.1038/nclimate2935 | Original article

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