If the U.S. were to implement power and transportation policies consistent with the recent Paris agreement, hundreds of thousands of premature deaths could be prevented and billions of dollars saved, according to a paper published this week online in Nature Climate Change.
The study notes, however, that the country will have to go well beyond its current planned reductions in emissions from both energy and transportation to achieve this goal.
One hundred ninety-five countries signed the Paris agreement in December, reaffirming their commitment to prevent global average temperatures rising by more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
In the study, Drew Shindell and colleagues modelled the U.S. public health benefits of implementing clean energy and transportation policies tailored towards that international goal. They simulate scenarios where transportation emissions are reduced by 75 percent and energy sector emissions by 63 percent. They found such policies could significantly reduce emissions of damaging pollutants such as particulate matter and ozone. They also found that, compared to a business-as-usual scenario, clean energy and transportation policies would prevent around 295,000 premature deaths by 2030, including 175,000 for energy and 120,000 for transportation.
The researchers estimate the benefits of implementing these policies outweigh the costs by up to a factor of 10, with the clean energy policies estimated to save the U.S. economy up to $800 billion, and clean transportation polices up to $400 billion.