Some 300,000 premature deaths could be avoided by 2030 if the U.S. abides by the ambitious Paris Climate Agreement, according to a new analysis. Christopher Intagliata reports.
The Paris Climate Agreement pledges to limit global temperature rise to "well below 2 degrees Celsius." "But really nobody—and certainly not the United States—has laid out the plan to get there." Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University. "So we wanted to model, what would be the effects of actually putting into place policies that would get us to a level we've pledged to reach?"
Shindell and his colleagues forecast that, to stay within two degrees C, we'd have to electrify nearly every car in the nation. And we'd have to get more than half our power from renewables. And if we do all that? In addition to keeping warming in check, the researchers estimate that we'd avoid nearly 300,000 premature deaths due to air pollution in the U.S., by 2030.
And they say the health-related financial benefits of that clean energy conversion—amounting to $250 billion dollars over the next 15 years—would likely outweigh the cost of implementing all that new technology. The analysis appears in the journal Nature Climate Change. [Drew T. Shindell et al, Climate and health impacts of U.S. emissions reductions consistent with 2 degrees C]
Big caveat: a lot of politicians these days don't think on 15-year time scales. They're looking only as far as the next election. "Right, but you start putting in these policies and you know you see the benefits for public health the same year the policies start to go into place. There's no lag time. Air quality is something that, unlike climate, doesn't take decades. Air quality is responding to what came out of a coal plant or a vehicle tailpipe last week, not last year." Meaning cutting carbon pollution might have real impacts on the nation's health and wealth almost immediately for us…and not just for our children's children.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
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