Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved if the United States would cut carbon emissions adequate enough to prevent a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures. In light of this, the move may help save billions in health costs.
In the recently concluded Paris agreement in December 2015, hundreds of countries across the globe promised to reduce emissions to curb global warming. With the United States as one of the leading developed countries, it is likely to lead the move to reduce carbon emissions by about 80 percent in 50 years.
"Global climate change is typically perceived as a problem that's mostly in the distant future and worse in other parts of the world, so is not prioritized relative to whatever pressing issues are dominating current political discourse," Professor Drew Shindell of Duke University said.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers at Duke University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies said that cutting carbon emissions could save up to 295,000 lives by 2030 and could save about $250 billion worth of health benefits.
Overall Improved Public Health
If the United States could reduce emissions, overall public health will improve. Air pollution kills 3 million people each year and by 2050, the number could increase two fold. One of the common causes of air pollution is the increased amount of particulate matter produced by burning fuel.
Poor air quality is now the environmental driver of premature death across the globe, claiming around 8 million people each year. Particulate matter could cause serious conditions including respiratory problems and cardiovascular illness.
Billions Worth Of Health Benefits
The researchers estimated that this reduction could eventually save about $250 billion (140 billion to 1,050 billion) per year, which is likely to exceed the cost of implementing clean energy and other programs that aim to reduce carbon emissions.
"These benefits alone likely exceed the costs of the transition to clean power generation and transportation," Prof. Shindell said.
The benefits are estimated to be five to 10 times bigger than the estimated cost of implementation. The study shows that the benefits of clean air energy and better transportation policies in the country are so large that it affects the society as a whole.
Photo: David McKelvey | Flickr