Clean energy plan would save thousands of lives

A plan aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy, proposed by the Biden administration, would quickly curb fossil fuel emissions, enhance air quality, and save hundreds of thousands of lives, and the benefits would greatly outweigh the policy’s costs, according to a new report.

Produced by researchers at Syracuse University, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and several other institutions as part of the Clean Energy Futures Project, the report analyzed the energy, economic, environmental, and health outcomes of a clean energy standard (CES) aimed at 80% carbon-free power by 2030.

The report, which was highlighted in a July 12, 2021, article in the Guardian, found that the 80×30 CES would save an estimated 317,500 lives in the U.S. over the next 30 years because of a significant reduction in air pollution. Black Americans would see the biggest air quality improvements, since they are often exposed to more pollution from living near highways and power plants. The standard would also help save $1.13 trillion in health costs, according to the report.

Researchers estimated that the 80×30 CES would yield the most health benefits and cost savings compared to seven other power sector policies studied, such as cap-and-trade proposals and carbon pricing schemes.

“The costs are much lower than we expected and the deaths avoided are much higher; there really is a huge opportunity here to address climate change and air quality,” said Kathy Fallon Lambert, a study co-author and a senior advisor at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE).

Read the Guardian article: Biden’s clean energy plan would cut emissions and save 317,000 lives

Read an E&E News article: Clean electricity standard carries $1.8T upside — study

Read a Harvard Chan C-CHANGE article about the report: An 80×30 Clean Electricity Standard: Carbon, Costs, and Health Benefits