2019-10-16
http://w3.windfair.net/wind-energy/pr/31512-university-of-vermont-study-climate-change-climate-action-health-costs-emissions-greenhouse-gas

Global Health Benefits of Climate Action Offset Costs

Cutting emissions while improving health is economically attractive – and justifies immediate climate action

Image: University of VermontImage: University of Vermont

The study, which was supported by a Gund Institute Catalyst Award, helps to justify immediate investments in global emission reductions by showing they will benefit the current generation of citizens while also helping to address climate change for future generations. The price tag for cutting global emissions may seem expensive, until the human toll of deaths from air pollution and climate change are factored in. The new study from the University of Vermont in Nature Communications reports that immediate, dramatic cuts in carbon emissions – aggressive enough to meet the Paris Climate Agreement – are economically sound if human health benefits are accounted for.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also reduce deaths from air pollution in communities near the emissions reductions,” says Mark Budolfson, co-lead author from the University of Vermont. “These health 'co-benefits’ of climate change policy are widely believed to be important, but until now have not been fully incorporated in global economic analyses of how much the world should invest in climate action.”

By adding air pollution to global climate models, Budolfson and colleagues find that economically, the optimal climate policy would be more aggressive than previously thought, and would produce immediate net benefits globally. The health benefits alone could reach trillions of dollars in value annually, depending on air quality policies that nations adopt, to offset climate investments.

“We show the climate conversation doesn’t need to be about the current generation investing in the further future,” says Budolfson, a Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment from UVM’s College of Arts of Sciences. “By making smart investments in climate action, we can save lives now through improved air quality and health.”

Researchers considered the costs and benefits of air pollutant emissions, which produce aerosols. Aerosols have never been fully incorporated into this type of modeling, and are important for two reasons. Aerosol pollution worsens human health, but aerosols also act to cool the earth, counterbalancing some of the warming generated by greenhouse gases.

By factoring in these additional co-benefits and co-harms, the researchers identified a climate policy that would bring immediate net benefits globally, both in health and economic terms. The strongest potential near-term health benefits are in China and India, which face among the highest death rates from air pollution.

The researchers find that the dramatic efforts needed to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees C (or 3.6 degrees F) is economically defensible. This is because the health benefits resulting from air pollution reductions can offset the near-term costs. Prior economic studies on this issue did not support such a strict climate target.

Source:
University of Vermont
Author:
Press Office
Keywords:
University of Vermont, study, climate change, climate action, health, costs, emissions, greenhouse gas




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