New research links greenhouse gas reduction efforts with public health benefits

James Boyce

James Boyce, UMass Amherst Economics Professor and Director of the Program on Development, Peacebuilding and the Environment at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), and Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity and Director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California, have co-authored a new report which finds that a climate change mitigation strategy would positively impact the health of millions of poor and minority Americans. 

The report, Cooling the Planet, Clearing the Air: Climate Policy, Carbon Pricing, and Co-Benefits, found that the same industrial facilities that emit carbon tend to generate other harmful pollutants, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, that actually pose a more immediate and direct threat to the health of nearby residents.  Since these facilities are typically located in or near low-income and minority communities, adding these harmful “co-pollutants” to a climate change mitigation strategy would have an almost immediate positive health impact on the health of millions of poor and minority Americans.  The research showed that the benefits would be comparable in economic value to the benefits of the carbon reduction by itself.

The peer-reviewed report is the first national level study to take such a careful look at the potential to further reduce harmful air pollution as part of any strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reverse climate change.

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