The lucky stroke crippled me and gave me a new life. Now I'm just unbelievably good looking and modest. Always turn a little to the left.
23 Sept 2013
Tackling climate change 'would save millions of lives' and not cost as much!
Cleaner air from tackling climate change 'would save millions of lives' and not cost as much as thought.
The benefits of a reduction in air pollution alone justify action on climate change, say the authors of a new report
Tackling climate change would save millions of lives a year by the end of the century purely as a result of the decrease in air pollution, according to a new study.
The study is published as scientists from around the globe gather in Stockholm to thrash out final details of a landmark assessment of climate science. Their final report is due to be released on Friday 27 September and will set out projections of wide-ranging impacts of global warming from droughts to floods to sea-level rise.
The research suggests that the benefits of cuts to air pollution from curbing fossil-fuel use justify action alone – even without other climate impacts such as more extreme weather and sea-level rise.
"It is pretty striking that you can make an argument purely on health grounds to control climate change," said Jason West, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose work is published in Nature Climate Change.
West's team compared two futures, one in which climate change is stabilised by aggressive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and one in which emissions are not curbed. The scientists then modelled how this affected air pollutants and the consequent effects on health.
They found that 300,000-700,000 premature deaths a year would be avoided in 2030, 800,000 – 1.8 million in 2050 and 1.4 million to 3 million in 2100. By mid-century, the world's population is expected to peak at around 9 to 10 billion.
A key finding was that the value of the health benefits delivered by cutting a tonne of CO2 emissions was $50-$380, greater than the projected cost of cutting carbon in the next few decades. The benefits do not accrue from reductions in CO2 per se but because of associated pollutants released from burning fossil fuels.
It is possible to reduce pollutants in fossil fuel emissions more cheaply without switching to low carbon sources of power – for example with scrubbers on coal plants that remove NOx and SOx; or by cars switching from diesel to petrol –but the authors say it is striking that the value of health benefits outweigh the costs of cutting carbon.