One of the reasons industries often cite for not taking steps to reduce carbon emissions is the expenses involved and it could affect their profits. However experts contend that the health benefits far outweigh the costs and in fact reducing carbon emissions pays for itself.
According to researchers from MIT the saving accrued from the savings on health care and other costs related to air pollution are very significant in comparison to the expenses of reducing carbon emissions.
Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT says, “Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality. In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution.”
Researchers examined in detail the health benefits of different climate policies as well as the costs of such policies. The three climate policies which were examined include a clean energy policy, an eco-friendly transport policy, and a cap and trade policy.
The researchers discovered that the saving made on healthcare spending can make up for more than 26% of the expenses to put into action an eco-friendly transport policy. It can save almost 10.5 times the cost of putting into place a cap-and-trade program. The savings made on health care spending on the other hand are only slightly larger than the cost of implementing a clean and eco friendly energy standard.
Lead author Tammy Thompson of Colorado State University explains, “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,”
However the scientists were quick to point that the health benefits of carbon reduction measures have already been realized and additional measures will not translate into more improvements.
However, researchers warn that after a certain point, most of the health benefits have already been realized, and additional emissions reductions won’t convert into greater improvements.
Air pollution benefits can inspire better carbon policies today, it is just the first steps towards managing climate change and for more tangible results efforts must be made to go much beyond the initial cuts which give the largest air-pollution benefits.