Reducing Carbon Emissions Would Pay for Itself
MIT researchers now say that savings on healthcare spending and other costs related to air pollution are noteworthy when compared to the costs of reducing carbon emissions.
"Carbon reduction policies significantly improve air quality," notes co-author Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT. "In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution."
Researchers examined health benefits of three climate policies and the economic costs of the policies: a clean energy standard, a transportation policy and a cap-and-trade program.
According to Science Recorder, "They discovered that savings on health care spending could make up for 26 percent of the cost to put into action a transportation policy, but as much as 10.5 times the cost of putting into action a cap-and-trade program. The savings on health care spending, on the other hand, were only slightly larger than the cost of implementing a clean-energy standard."
"If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don't include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies," explained lead author Tammy Thompson of Colorado State University.
Even still, researchers warn that once a certain point is reached, most of the health benefits will have already been realized. Additional reductions in emissions will not convert into greater improvements, according to Capital OTC.
"While air-pollution benefits can help motivate carbon policies today, these carbon policies are just the first step," Selin adds. "To manage climate change, we'll have to make carbon cuts that go beyond the initial reductions that lead to the largest air-pollution benefits."
The findings on carbon emissions were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.