A regional initiative among 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states aimed at reducing carbon emissions from transportation could help avoid about 1,100 deaths and nearly 5,000 asthma cases each year, and could save more than $11 billion in health costs, according to a new analysis.
The analysis of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), released October 6, 2020, was conducted by the Transportation, Equity, Climate and Health Study (TRECH) Project, a collaboration of researchers from the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston University, and the University of North Carolina.
The researchers analyzed five policy scenarios that participating states are considering. The scenarios involve different reduction caps for greenhouse gas emissions, from 20% to 25%, and different ways to invest the proceeds from diesel fuel distributors, who would pay a fee for each ton of carbon emitted by the fuel they sell. TCI is slated to begin in 2022.
According to the analysis, the scenario with the largest estimated health benefits includes the most ambitious reduction in carbon emissions—25%—and the largest share of investments in transit expansion and upkeep, low- and zero-emission buses and trucks, and improvements in walking and biking infrastructure.
While all five policy scenarios would modestly reduce pre-existing inequities in air pollution exposure between racial and ethnic groups, none would fully address the gaps. Further emission reductions would be needed to address these inequities, according to the analysis.