Study: Reducing carbon emissions would prevent 175,000 pollution-related deaths


By Tim Mandell - The Rural Blog



“Reducing U.S. climate emissions enough to avoid a 2-degree Celsius increase in global warming could prevent up to 175,000 pollution-related premature deaths nationwide by 2030 and generate health benefits of about $250 billion annually,” says a study by Duke University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies published in Nature Climate Change.

“Most recent climate negotiations have focused on reducing current levels of emissions enough to avoid triggering a 2-degree Celsius (or 3.6-degree Fahrenheit) rise in atmospheric warming — a threshold at which the increased risk of prolonged droughts and heat waves, accelerated sea-level rise and other damaging climate impacts could outpace our ability to adapt,” Tim Lucas reports for Duke Today. “Much of these negotiations have centered on reducing emissions of longer-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. But the study demonstrates that simultaneously reducing other air pollutants also has benefits.”

Researchers found that “cleaner energy policies could prevent as many as 175,000 premature deaths, and another 22,000 or so deaths each year following that,” Lucas writes. “Cleaner transportation policies could prevent around 120,000 premature deaths by 2030, and another 14,000 or so deaths each year thereafter. The nationwide health benefits associated with preventing these deaths would total around $250 billion a year in the near term. That means they would likely exceed what it costs to implement the new policies and would offset damage recovery fees or avoidance credits for businesses that are negatively affected.”

Drew T. Shindell, professor of climate sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, told Lucas, “Burning fossil fuels in power plants, industry and motor vehicles is the main source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Air pollution linked mostly to these same sources is also the leading environmental cause of premature death worldwide. By curbing their emissions, you score on two fronts.”

The Rural Blog is published by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

By Tim Mandell

The Rural Blog

comments powered by Disqus