Emission reductions would save the U.S. billions of dollars


Iowa's investment in wind energy has lessened the state's need to implement measures to be in compliance with the EPA's new Clean Air Act. (Michael Leland/Flickr)
Iowa’s investment in wind energy has lessened the state’s need to implement measures to be in compliance with the EPA’s new Clean Air Act. (Michael Leland/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | February 23, 2016

A new study shows that reducing carbon dioxide emissions could save the United States billions of dollars per year, far outweighing the costs of implementation of green energy initiatives.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that policies that limit global warming to 2°C by 2030 would have significant public health and environmental benefits that would save the U.S. alone an estimated $250 billion per year. By reducing atmospheric changes that lead to unpredictable and violent weather patterns and increasingly brutal flooding and droughts in addition to ambient particulate matter in the atmosphere, aggressive sustainability policies would reduce premature deaths by nearly 300,000.

The study estimates the benefits of policies like those suggested at last year’s COP21 summit in Paris at 5-10 times the cost of implementation. Achieving those benefits, however, would require larger and more sweeping commitments than those that were eventually agreed to at COP21.

One area not addressed in the study was agricultural emissions, which exceeded both the energy and transportation sectors in Iowa in 2014. Additional research is needed to see the added benefits versus implementation costs associated with reducing harmful methane and nitrous oxide emissions released through livestock raising, tilling, and fertilizer application.

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