A study indicates an immediate adjustment in climate change policy could yield a ten-fold benefit in reduced healthcare costs.
The study by M.I.T., published Sunday in the scholarly journal Nature Climate Change, examined proposed climate change policies and concluded cap-and-trade -- in which the government places limits on corporate carbon emissions and businesses can purchase or trade additional allowances to pay for excessive carbon emissions -- would cost $14 billion to implement in the United States. The savings on future health-related expenses, though, including a reduction in asthma and fewer sick-days taken, could yield 10.5 times the cost.
Other policy costs were also analyzed. A clean energy standard, including an increase in wind power and solar energy to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent in 2030, would cost $208 billion to implement but save $247 billion in health costs. A third option under consideration, to reduce the number of gasoline-using vehicles, would cost $1 trillion but yield only a quarter of that amount in savings, the study said.
"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," lead author Tammy Thompson, now at Colorado State University, said in a statement.
The researchers said the study is the most comprehensive, thus far, in assessing how climate policy affects the economy and healthcare in the United States.